Lunar New Year: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

The Lunar New Year is being celebrated on February 8 with a Google Doodle.

The New Year ushers in the Year of the Fire Monkey, the ninth in the 12-year zodiac cycle. The monkey represents “quick wittedness” and “smarts,” according to Google.

“Doodler Alyssa Winans illustrated a family of monkeys in the traditional fiery red which matches the lucky envelopes families give and receive on Lunar New Year — and the explosions of the firecrackers,” Google says.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. The Lunar New Year Is Celebrated in Several Countries

Fireworks illuminate buildings of the Chinese border town of Dandong as people celebrate the eve of the Lunar New Year. (Getty)

Fireworks illuminate buildings of the Chinese border town of Dandong as people celebrate the eve of the Lunar New Year. (Getty)

The Lunar New Year is celebrated in several Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam and Malaysia.

While it is not officially a holiday in the United States, many Asian communities in America celebrate the New Year.

This year, for the first time, city schools in New York City will close for the Lunar New Year, according to the New York Daily News.

Celebrations are planned around the country.


2. Each Year of the Lunar Calendar Is Marked by the Chinese Zodiac

A woman prays at the Thien Hau Temple on the eve of the Lunar New Year which will be the Year of the Monkey, in Los Angeles, California on February 7, 2016. (Getty)

A woman prays at the Thien Hau Temple on the eve of the Lunar New Year which will be the Year of the Monkey, in Los Angeles, California on February 7, 2016. (Getty)

The Lunar New Year, often simply referred to as the Chinese New Year, is marked each year by the Chinese Zodiac, or “Shēngxiào.”

Along with the monkey, the other symbols are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, pig or dog.

The monkey is the ninth zodiac sign in the rotation of twelve.

Every year is associated with one animal and one of the five fixed elements: wood, fire, earth, metal or water.


3. People Born in the Year of the Monkey Are ‘Intelligent, Adaptable, Eloquent & Flexible’

Men perform a dragon dance in Latha township, Yangon's Chinatown district on February 7, 2016 on the eve of the Lunar New Year which marks the start of the year of the monkey.  (Getty)

Men perform a dragon dance in Latha township, Yangon’s Chinatown district on February 7, 2016 on the eve of the Lunar New Year which marks the start of the year of the monkey. (Getty)

People who are born in the year of the monkey are intelligent, adaptable, eloquent and flexible, according to the Travel China Guide website.

“According to Chinese zodiac analysis, people born in a Year of the Monkey always have smart, agile and active characteristics. They are endowed with highly adaptable abilities because of their complicated living environment,” the website says.

They are typically brilliant, independent and honest. But those born in the year of the monkey are often also irritable and easily frustrated.

“The Monkey’s natural matches are the Rat and the Dragon. With attraction, understanding and a shared need for excitement, the Monkey and the Rat make an interesting and adventurous couple. In the same sense, the Monkey and the Dragon’s respect and adoration for one another can translate into long-lasting happiness. The Monkey’s worst natural pair is the Tiger, as the two are both highly competitive and stubborn. It can be very difficult for the Monkey and the Tiger to see eye to eye,” according to Famous Birthdays.

The last year of the monkey was 2004.


4. The Holiday Has Become Mostly Cultural, but Has Its Roots in Ancient Traditions

A man rides a motorcycle past people lighting fireworks on a street in Beijing on February 7, 2016, the eve of the Lunar New Year. (Getty)

A man rides a motorcycle past people lighting fireworks on a street in Beijing on February 7, 2016, the eve of the Lunar New Year. (Getty)

The Lunar New Year is rooted in ancient religious traditions, but has become mainly cultural, the Huffington Post reports.

Family members flock home to be with their families, creating a massive holiday travel period in China and other Asian countries. In China, a lengthy national holiday is declared each year.

According to ChineseNewYears.info, the holiday traces back to ancient China, possibly the Shang Dyansty:

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the “Year”. The “Year” looks like an ox with a lion head and inhabits in the sea. At the night of New Year’s Eve, the “Year” will come out to harm people, animals, and properties. Later, people found that the “Year” fears the color red, fire, and loud sounds. Therefore, for self-protection, people formed the habit of posting red Dui Lian in front of their house as well as launching fireworks, and hanging lanterns at year end.

Lunar New Year celebrations also include superstitions, according to the Huffington Post.

“Some families avoid doing certain things to make sure that they don’t unwittingly set a precedent for the entire year. For example, people won’t wear old, damaged clothing, so as not to carry bad luck into the new year,” the website explains. “Some families try not to wash laundry, handle knives, or take out the garbage on this day to make sure they don’t throw their good fortune away. Others believe it’s mandatory to stay up late to welcome the new year.”


5. The Year of the Monkey Could Be a Good, or Bad, Year for You

Cambodian-Chinese hold incense sticks through the windows of a car after visiting a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal province on February 8, 2016. (Getty)

Cambodian-Chinese hold incense sticks through the windows of a car after visiting a temple to mark the start of the Lunar New Year in Kandal province on February 8, 2016. (Getty)

The Chinese Zodiac symbols are used by astrologists to “predict” the coming year. According to AstrologyClub.org:

The positive and negative quality of the Monkey Year 2016 culminate in a year that anything can happen. There is little point in storing up goods or planning one’s life. The influence of the Monkey puts everything into flux. Things will get accomplished, but largely through personal and individual efforts. Group movements, such as political upheaval or revolutions, will not make a mark during this year.

This cheeky animal bursts with exuberance, bringing a lightening fast pace and fantastical motivation. The Monkey increases communication, humor and wit, helping us get through stressful times with grace and ease. Business flourishes and risks tend to pan out. The Monkey’s gift is the ability to find unconventional solutions to old problems. Daring to be different can lead to success.

Will it be a good or difficult year for you?

“The almanac also states how people born under other signs will fare in the year of the Monkey. This is a generally auspicious year for Rats, Oxen, Dragons, Horses, Monkeys, Roosters and Dogs. This could be a difficult year for Tigers, Snakes, Dogs and Boars. Rabbits should beware their finances. Sheep should take care of their health,” the website says.

Find out what your sign is and read more horoscopes here.

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