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Sunday, February 7, 2016

2016 Year of the Monkey

In Mandarin, one says, "Gong Xi Fa Cai." 

In Cantonese, one says "Gong Hey Fat Choy."

In whichever language it is said, it means Happy New Year. The Chinese lunar calendar determines the Chinese New Year.  The new year begins with the new moon.  The 2016 Chinese New Year begins February 8th and is the Year of the Monkey.

The last fifteen days of the old year are spent preparing for the upcoming New Year celebration.  This is the time for cleaning the house, cooking special foods for the feast, making banners and decorations to get ready for the celebration.  Sounds a lot like our Christmas, right?  When the New Year begins, the partying lasts for 15 days!  These days are spent eating, performing dragon and lion dances, and attending lantern festivals to help usher in the new year.

Each Chinese New Year is named after an animal and each animal has certain characteristics.  There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, - one for each year of the lunar cycle.  So what characteristics does a monkey have, you ask?  Monkeys are smart, skillful and successful.  They are knowledgeable and discriminating.  They are friends of people born in the year of the Dragon and the Rat, but not of the Tiger.  Hmm, I was born in the year of the Goat.  I wonder if we could be friends?  If you want to see your Chinese Zodiac animal, check out this site Chinese Zodiacs for Kids.  The site has some great information on the Chinese Culture for families and kids.

During Chinese New Year, you might notice a lot of red and gold.  Why is that?  Red symbolized good fortune and joy.  It is custom for elders to give the younger ones a red envelope to welcome in the new year and give a blessing to the younger ones.  The red envelope is a symbol of prosperity and often contains money.  I would not mind getting a red envelope!  Gold is considered the most beautiful color.  It symbolizes good luck.  

If you are interested in learning more about the Chinese New Year, the library has some great books on the subject.  Did you know we also have books written in Chinese, if you happen to be able to read Chinese?  How cool is that!  I wish you a Gong Xi Fa Cai or a Gong Hey Fat Choy!

Chinese New Year books

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