Chinese New Year – The year of the Monkey!


                In 2016, Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival) starts on February 8th. In the Chinese Lunar Calendar, this is the year of the monkey.  The celebration usually begins early and extends past the actual New Year. This year people will begin celebrating January 31st and go all the way through February 22nd! Many workers in China will take off 2-3 weeks so they have time to travel home and celebrate with family.

                Chinese New Year is a winter holiday, since it was made to happen during a quiet time and before farm work would begin. In the past, the celebration of Chinese New Year focused on wishes for a good and prosperous harvest. Today, the Spring Festival is touted as a beginning to a prosperous year in business as well.

Chinese New Year – The year of the Monkey!

The focus of the New Year celebrations is family. This Special New Year’s Dinner (or Reunion Dinner) is the most important meal of the whole year.  You will find generations of a family at the dinner.
                Dumpling are served at this feast because dumplings look like an old form of Chinese money and are supposed to bring you wealth in the New Year.  Fish is also served since the Chinese word for fish sounds similar to the word for ‘Extra.”  It is believed that you will have ‘extra’ money in the New Year when you eat fish.
                Red is a traditional color and very popular during the celebration. People will wear red and decorate their homes in red to bring good luck. With 2016 being the Year of the Goat, you will see goat decorations as well.
Whether you are in a big Chinese city or a small town, you will see fireworks, dragon dancers and lion dances. There are many performances and gatherings to enjoy during this special time.

                Gifts are exchanged during Chinese New Year as well. Only children and the elderly can expect gifts, though. Money must be tucked into a lucky red envelope before being given out. Children get especially excited when they are given a red envelope.

New Year’s items being sold at Dihua Market, Taipei, Taiwan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

                We can join in and celebrate the Year of the Monkey even if we are not in China. Have a get together with friends and family, using red decorations. Wear red clothing, too. Chinese dumplings are not too hard to make, and have some fish, too.  Share some money gifts with the children in your life and let them enjoy receiving those lucky red envelopes!

My Mother’s Mother and her Family are Chinese, and it is very sad that I was not raised with a lot of the traditions and customs as I’d like to have.  So this year I am making it a goal to learn and teach my children about our culture, as foreign as it is to me.

Do you have traditions and customs that you celebrate with your Family?

What are some of them?
What are some that you want to learn yourself, in order to pass them down to your children?
It’s never to late to start!

          Gōngxǐ fācái!