Year of the Monkey, it’s beautiful to see Chinese New Year become a global celebration with deeply rooted cultural symbolism that plays out in the art of food, dance and fun.
These lush events mark a time to honor ancestors and deities, focus on and set your intentions for the year ahead and create opportunities to spend time with family, friends and maybe find that someone special. What you do during the time of celebration is believed to affect the coming year, so it’s wise to include symbols reflecting what you desire—such as prosperity, wealth, happiness, health and fertility.
Year of the Monkey
This New Year begins on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar—the second new moon after the winter solstice. This date varies each year between January and February. Celebrations start Chinese New Year’s Eve and continue to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month.
Chinese New Year 2016 begins on February 8 and ends on February 22. The Chinese lunar calendar is associated with the Chinese zodiac and has 12 distinct animal signs: Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat and Ox. 2016 will honor the year of the Monkey.
How to Celebrate the Year of the Monkey
Incorporate the traditional art and entertainment to set the scene for the celebration. Red is considered an auspicious color representing good fortune, and it appears in everything from decorations to undergarments.
The traditional red lanterns were adopted 500 years ago around the time of Buddha’s ascension, and their practical function has since evolved into artistic expression. Typically they come in red and gold with designs of nature, the Fú character, fish and the zodiac animals. Symbolically they represent a bright new year, a path out of darkness and create a festive backdrop for your celebration.
The mythological demon serpent Nian, which according to folklore once ravaged villages, has influenced many artistic expressions—from dragon and lion dancing to the loud drums, clanging cymbals and deafening firecrackers used to ward off evil spirits. Consider hiring a dance troupe to perform at your event. There are many sources online, or work with a trusted event planner in your area.
Decorate a dragon or thematic cookies and get creative by making your own red lanterns. Make sure you have a lot of red and gold colored things all about you. You can also find other great decorating and craft ideas at your brilliant local Asian markets or on YouTube and Pinterest.