Lunar New Year Celebrations

Monkey Mask, Bhutan, 20th cent.

Monkey Mask, Bhutan, 20th cent.

Gung hay fat choy!  Yes, the Year of the Red Monkey (4713), begins on February 8th, the start of the Spring Festival.  Celebrated by many countries in East Asia, this holiday is also known as Chinese New Year, Seollal (Korea), Tsagaan Sar (Mongolia), Losar (Tibet) and Tet (VietNam).  Here in the Big Apple, there will be celebrations in all 3 Chinatowns, with parades in Queens on February 12th, and in Manhattan on February 13th.

According to the Pocket Chinese Almanac (article below) “the New Year is a time when families come together to celebrate nature’s renewal.  The elaborate rituals actually begin days before:  cleaning the house thoroughly, thanking the Kitchen God before the evening meal buying new clothes to wear for the new year.  The traditional festival period lasts for 15 days, with the first full moon marking the Lantern Festival, a carnival for young lovers”.

The many Asian cultural institutes in the city will all host activities around this holiday: the Asia Society, the Museum of Chinese in America,  the China Institute,  the Korea Society, and the Rubin Museum  as well as other organizations and institutions, starting Saturday and going through the 15th.  I’ve listed as many activities as I could in the CURRENT EVENTS page.  There’s a lot going on this year!

Capital, Cuxa Cloister, Catalan, ca 1130-40, marble

Capital, Cuxa Cloister, Catalan, ca 1130-40, marble

The monkey is the 9th of twelve zodiac animals on the Chinese calendar, and considered to be quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart.  On the weakness side of the ledger, they are suspicious, cunning, selfish, arrogant, jealous.  The Monkey King is one of the most well-known characters in Chinese literature, and you’ll find him in operas, theatre productions and films.

The Monkey contains the elements of metal and water, which are connected to gold, and wisdom and danger, respectively.  Bottom line for this year:  things will be changing a lot, so be adaptable, and exercise caution when making changes.  Which is good advice no matter what your sign!

Your Chinese Zodiac sign occurs every 12 years.  Yours would be the Monkey if you were born in: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, etc., and you would share this sign with Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, Elizabeth Taylor and Mick Jagger, among other notables.

No matter what your sign, get out and CELEBRATE!!

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