DIY Ox for Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, begins on February 12th this year. It is a celebration of the beginning of spring and 2021 is the year of the Ox! We’ll get to the meaning later.

The festival has a history of over 3000 years and continues to be an important celebration around the world. Families gather to eat dinner on New Year’s eve and exchange lucky red envelopes/gifts that symbolize wealth and prosperity.

We wanted to celebrate the year of the Ox with a fun decorative display to welcome the new year in the spirit of these zodiac pinatas!

You’ll Need:

  • Pencil or marker
  • Cardboard
  • Craft knife and scissors
  • Packing tape
  • Hot glue gun
  • Acrylic or tempera craft paint and a paintbrush
  • Brown tissue paper
  • Red, white, and tan cardstock
  • Red, yellow, and green crepe paper

The Chinese zodiac is a repeating 12-year cycle of animal signs based on the lunar calendar. In order, the zodiac animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig. 2021 is the year of the Ox, and the Lunar New Year, also known as Spring Festival, marks the transition from one zodiac animal to the next.

Much like the zodiac signs we know as horoscopes, each Chinese zodiac animal represents personality traits, romantic compatibility, and what fortune the year will bring. In Chinese culture, the ox is a valued animal because of its role in agriculture and its positive attributes. People born in the year of the Ox distinguish themselves as honest and hard-working. Because of their honest and earnest character traits, they are reliable and trustworthy. They tend to be low-key and never look for praise, but their hard work often leads to recognition. These are only some of the traits associated with people born in the year of the Ox. Find more here.

Make Your Own Year of the Ox Party Decor

Supplies:

Pencil or marker, cardboard, craft knife, paper or packing tape, hot glue gun (with LOTS of glue sticks for all that fringe), acrylic or tempera craft paint and a paintbrush, brown tissue paper (multiple shades make a nice look, but only one is necessary), scissors, red, white, and tan cardstock, and red, yellow, and green crepe paper. 

Instructions:

  1. Draw a basic ox body shape onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out (you can add the horns and ears later!)
  2. Using the first cutout ox, trace and cut out another. Now you have both sides of your piñata.
  3. Cut long strips of corrugated cardboard 3 inches wide. You want the corrugation running perpendicular to the length of the strip so that it can bend easily to your ox’s contours.
  4. Using paper or packing tape and starting with one side at a time, attach the cardboard strips to the perimeter of the ox. Add more cardboard strips as needed to wrap around the entire circumference of the ox body. 
  5. Affix the other side of your ox with your tape. The ox should become 3D at this point.
  6. Wrap the hooves in tissue paper (about 11×11 inch squares worked well for us) and secure with glue.
  7. Cut long strips of tissue paper fringe (we used a mix of browns to get a pretty variegated look). The strips should be about three inches tall with fringe slits cut up about two inches.
  8. Working from bottom to top and wrapping around your ox’s body, glue down the fringe. You can alternate colors as desired, but it looks nice to have a base color you come back to. 
  9. Accessorize! Cut eyes, ears, and rosy cheeks out of cardstock and glue them to your ox. Cut two horns from cardboard and paint them, then glue them to your ox’s head. We made a tail by gluing some extra tissue paper fringe to a ribbon and attaching it to the ox’s rump.
  10. Make red paper peonies. Cut out a small rectangle (¾ by 2 inches or so) of yellow crepe paper and cut fringe into it, then roll it up to form the center of the flower. Secure with hot glue. Cut out red crepe paper petals and shape them by slightly stretching the middle to get a cup shape. Ruffle the tops of the petals by stretching small sections along the petals’ tops. Glue the petals to the yellow center. Cut out a few green crepe paper leaves and attach them to your ox along with your peonies.

This year, we wanted to lift our dreary winter moods in February by looking to world festivities. The Lunar New Year, aka Spring Festival, seemed like a fun celebration to set the tone for the coming spring. Display our DIY Ox as a lucky centerpiece to welcome the new year and all that it has in store for us.

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