Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, dates back to early 14th century B.C., and it’s a holiday that honors ancestors and celebrates togetherness. The Chinese New Year also welcomes a new year of the zodiac, which is based on lunar phases. This year, 2016, is the year of the monkey.
There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and the monkey is ninth in line after the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, and sheep. In traditional Chinese mythology, the monkey god is “all-pervading and all powerful,” a god that offers protection. In the zodiac, each member of the zodiac is associated with one of five elements (metal, wood, earth, water, and fire). Monkeys are associated with metal, which means they symbolize intense, yet stubborn beings.
Year of the Monkey
The monkey is celebrated in the years of 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, and now 2016. And people who are born in the year of the monkey are considered independent, enthusiastic, clever, witty, curious, and even childlike. Some of the famous people born in the year of the monkey include George Lucas, Joe Montana, Tom Hanks, Celine Dion, Venus Williams, and Sam Smith.
While obviously the biggest Lunar New Year celebrations are held in China, this holiday is now celebrated around the world. Nearly 140 countries are hosting festivals, parades, and cultural awareness weeks in honor of the New Year. Major cities like London, New York, and Vancouver all have celebrations. There are dragon boat races in Sydney, Chinese movie marathons in Venezuela, and parades in San Francisco.
You can get involved in the local celebrations in your community or you can try celebrating on your own. For good luck, be sure to decorate with red and gold colors, the traditional colors for Chinese New Year Celebrations. Include a whole fish and mandarin oranges into your meal for good luck as well. And don’t forget about fortune cookie with special messages.
Were you not born in the year of the monkey? You can still bring some of the monkey characteristics into your own life this new year. Embrace the curiosity and wit of the monkey.