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Assembly Title
Chinese New Year

Submitted by
S. Daly

Age Group

To hear a possible explanation of how the Chinese came to name their years
To appreciate that we are all different
To understand that we are all good at something

Simple animal masks made in an Art lesson, or simple animal costumes or appropriately coloured clothes
Long piece of blue material/paper to be used as the river
Lantern, red envelope

Time of Year
Chinese New Year - late winter

Other Details
Similarities with Aesop's fable "The Hare and the Tortoise" could be pointed out.

1. Good morning.
Today is the (date).

2. It is a special day.
It is the first day of the Chinese New Year.

3. Most people here celebrate New Year on the 1st. of January, but Chinese people celebrate it on a different day each year.

4. They celebrate it on the day of the second new moon, after December 22nd., which this year is today.
If you look out of the window tonight, the moon will look very small.

5. The Chinese celebrate for 15 days.
They have fireworks, coloured lanterns, dragon processions, nice food - and maybe best of all - the children are given money in special red envelopes!

6. The Chinese also call the years after animals.
Today is the beginning of the Year of the (animal).

7. The years are named after 12 different animals.
We are going to show you how the 12 animals were chosen.


NARRATOR 1: It was nearly New Year. Twelve animals were arguing.
There was - a dog, a pig, a rat, an ox, a tiger, a hare, a dragon, a snake, a horse, a ram, a cockerel and a monkey.

NARRATOR 2: They thought the New Year should have a name.
They were arguing because each animal wanted the year to be named after itself.
The monkey, the dragon and the dog started the argument.

DRAGON: This year should be called The Year of the Dragon, because I'm the fiercest. (ROARS. BREATHES FIRE.),

MONKEY: (SCAMPERS OUT OF THE WAY OF THE FLAMES.) No, it should be called The Year of the Monkey, because I'm the quickest.

DOG: (RUNS BEHIND TREE.) No, no. It should be called The Year of the Dog, because I'm the cleverest.

DRAGON + MONKEY: Oh no you're not!

DOG: Oh yes I am!

NARRATOR 1: They argued for hours. All the other animals joined in too. There was so much growling and barking and squeaking and bleating that they disturbed the Chinese gods.


GOD 1: Whatever is the matter with those animals?

GOD 2: Let's go and see.

NARRATOR 2: The gods appeared in the sky. The animals were amazed.
They stopped arguing and stared at the gods.

GOD 3: What are you arguing about?


God 4: Be quiet! What dreadful manners you all have!

NARRATOR 1: The animals were ashamed. One by one, they explained the problem. The gods thought it over.

GOD 1: We've got an idea. Listen carefully.

GOD 2: Can you see that big river? Why not have a race across it? We can name this New Year after the winner of the race.

DRAGON: That's a good idea.

ANIMALS: Yes! Yes!

NARRATOR 2: Each animal thought he would be the winner. They hurried to the river bank and lined up for the race.

GOD 3: Are you ready?

ANIMALS: Yes we are.

GOD 4: Ready, steady, go!

NARRATOR 1: With a mighty splash, the animals jumped into the river. They swam as fast as they could towards the other side. The ox was the strongest swimmer. He was soon in the lead.

OX: I'm going to win easily.

NARRATOR 2: Now the rat wasn't the best swimmer, but he was the cleverest animal there. He saw the ox was in the lead.
He said to himself:

RAT: He's not going to beat me. I know what I'll do.

NARRATOR 1: The rat climbed onto the ox's back. The ox felt something strange.

OX: The water must be tickling me.
I'm going to be the winner! Ho, ho, ho!

NARRATOR 2: The ox laughed loudly - and swallowed a big mouthful of water!
While he was coughing and spluttering, the rat jumped off his back and onto the bank.

RAT: Hooray! I'm the winner. Tee, hee, hee.

OX: Where did you come from?

NARRATOR 1: The rat just laughed. The gods laughed too.


GOD 1: Hard luck, Ox. You're very strong, but Rat was too clever for you this time. We will call this year The Year of the Rat. Ox, you were second, so next year will be The Year of the Ox.

NARRATOR 2: One by one, the animals finished the race. Tiger was 3rd. Hare was 4th. Dragon was 5th. Snake was 6th. Horse was 7th. Ram was 8th. Monkey was 9th. Cockerel was 10th. Dog was 11th. and Pig was 12th.

GOD 2: Well done all of you. We will name a year after each of you, in the same order that you finished the race.

NARRATOR 1: The animals were happy with this and didn't argue anymore. Rat was especially pleased, because the first year was The Year of the Rat.


If you know any Chinese people, remember to wish them a Happy New Year.
And finally - we have an animal poem for you.

GIRLS: Dear God, you made the animals:
The graceful horses with their foals,
The elephant and kangaroo,
The wolf, the bear and lion too.

BOYS: You gave the farmer useful friends,
Like pigs and cows and goats and sheep
And for OUR friends you gave us pets,
The rabbits, dogs and cats we keep.

ALL: Perhaps, God, when they bark and squeak,
They're really trying hard to speak
A Thank You Prayer, which we pray too

9. Of course all animals are loved equally, by God who made them.
God does not have favourites.
We will now sing "If I were a Butterfly" by Brian Howard. (Celebration Hymnal for Everyone number 298)

S. Daly 2000

Last updated 21-7-12.