In many cultures, wishing trees are a place to leave wishes and hopes for the future. One of the most famous ones is in Lam Tsuen in Hong Kong, where people travel from all over the world during Chinese New Year to leave wishes at one of its famous wishing trees. Make a wish upon a tree yourself with this craft that also helps your child learn more about Chinese culture.
What You Need:
- Florist foam base, circle, square or rectangle
- Branches from yard
- Decorative paper strips
- Hole punch
- Permanent markers
- Optional: Fabric or paper leaf shapes
What You Do:
- First, talk with your child about the history of the wishing tree tradition, which originated from Taoist and Buddhist rituals. Wishes were written on paper and hung from trees, and became a popular practice around the time of Chinese New Year to celebrate that holiday. Legends said the trees contained spirits that would grant wishes hung on the tree! Another belief was that wind would carry wishes up to heaven.
- Have your child cut some strips of decorative paper. For extra fun, you can also cut fabric into leaf shapes.
- Next, have your child think of a wish to hang on the tree. It can either be a specific wish, or just a word or idea that comes to mind, like “joy,” “peace,” “happiness,” “new friends.” She can write more wishes on additional papers, or ask friends and family members to each write a wish on one of the paper strips or leaves.
- Next, give her the hole punch so she can punch holes near the top of each strip of paper or leaf.
- Time to find a tree! Find a small tree in the backyard to hang the wishes from. If you don’t have one, she can collect some branches and twigs and stick them into a floral foam base.
- Have her put ribbons through the hole-punched holes and hang the wishes on the tree branches. Red or gold ribbons were used traditionally on Chinese Wishing Trees, but any pretty ribbon will work.
- See if the wishes come true and if so, thank the tree spirits!
Beth Levin has an M.A. in Curriculum and Education from Columbia University Teachers College. She has written educational activities for Macmillan/McGraw-Hill and Renaissance Learning publishers. She has a substitute teaching credential for grades K-12 in Oregon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.