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We've been trying to explain New Year to our 4-year-old but since he doesn't yet have a good understanding of the calendar, time references are meaningless to him.

How do you explain this?

This is a seed question. I know at least one good answer myself but I'd like to hear others' ideas too. It's a bit late to ask this now (1 January) but it will be relevant every year.

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After many fruitless attempts, my wife finally had this idea:

We're celebrating the birthday of the year. Just like people have a birthday once a year, the year also has a birthday. And because the year can't celebrate itself, people do it instead. And they do that with fireworks and parties.

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This is exactly what I told my kid. Then she asked, "Well, what do you get the year for a present and how will the present get unwrapped?" Still worked great though. – balanced mama Jan 1 '14 at 14:50
This is actually a really good idea. It's actually rather convenient too, since my oldest's birthday is December 1st. I'll keep this in mind for next year. – SomeShinyObject Jan 1 '14 at 14:54
This is the first thing that popped into my head upon reading the question. In answer to @balancedmama's question posed by her child, I'd answer New York Square New Year's Ball is a present =P – Doc Jan 23 '14 at 21:01

The term "toddler" can refer to a significant range of developmental ability. In raising my child, I have always tried to explain as much of the truth as she can sucessfully process. With very young children, often visuals are better than vocal explanations, so an activity where one of you stands in the middle and the other walks around the other as a demonstration of Earth's path around the sun and the identification of a full circle implying a new year might resonate with the toddle as well as provide an instructional opportunity.

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Very cool. Going to do this. Thanks! – Rhea Jan 5 '14 at 11:12

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