This year, the Chinese New Year falls on February 8th and it is the Year of the Fire Monkey according to Chinese zodiac. The festival lasts for 15 days. Most employees will have seven days off work, while students take one month absence from school. Being one of the traditional festivals, it is the time for whole families to reunite together, which is similar with Christmas Day to the westerners.
The Chinese zodiac signs are determined by the lunar year in which you were born. The Chinese believe the animal ruling one's birth year has a profound influence on personality and destiny. The saying is: "This animal hides in your heart." Unlike Western astrology, it does not look the heavenly constellations or planets to predict one's destiny. Rather, Chinese astrology deals with divining sciences of the five elements (earth, fire, water, metal and wood), Yin and Yang, Chi, and the cycles of time.
Legend has it that inception of the Chinese zodiac signs began when the Buddha beckoned all the animals to bid him farewell before his departure from the Earth. Only twelve arrived at his summoning and so those were given a place of honor in a year being named after each.
The Monkey is ninth of the 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle. Every 12 years there is a Monkey year. This particular year, 2016 is a Fire Monkey Year. In Chinese astrology, each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal sign and one the Five Elements: Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, or Earth. Both the sign and element of your birth year are said to affect your personality and destiny. For example, Metal Monkey born in 1920 and 1980, having traits of being determined and ambitious individuals. Warm-hearted and very likeable, but desire a solitary lifestyle. Fire Monkey, of which I am one, born in 1956 and 2016, are full of strength and determination. Others enjoy being in their company even though these Monkeys always want the upper hand.
Here are some traditional ways in which people celebrate the holiday:
- Families gather together and spend the evening preparing Chinese dumplings. It is common to hide a coin in one of the dumplings. Whoever gets the dumpling with the coin will supposedly have good luck in the coming year.
- On New Year’s Day, children receive leisee - red packets decorated with gold symbols and filled with "lucky money".
- Throughout the season, certain foods are served because they symbolize abundance and good fortune. Besides preparing special dishes, tangerines and oranges are often passed out to children and guests, as they symbolize wealth and good luck.
- Prepare a Tray of Togetherness, a circular or octagon-shaped tray with eight compartments, each containing symbolic foods such as lotus seeds and lychee nuts that provides a sweet beginning to the New Year.
Here are some famous people born in a Monkey year: Julius Caesar, Daniel Craig, Bette Davis, Jake Gyllenhaal, Eleanor Roosevelt, Betsy Ross, Diana Ross, Will Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, Harry S. Truman, Leonardo da Vinci, Jacqueline Bisset, Yul Brynner, Johnny Cash, David Copperfield, Joan Crawford, Ian Fleming, Jerry Hall, Tom Hanks, Harry Houdini, Debbie Reynolds, Diana Ross, Tom Selleck, Omar Sharif and Rod Stewart
Click here to find your particular Chinese Zodiac animal.