Almost everyone has heard of the Chinese zodiac, an ever revolving list of twelve animals that take turns representing the current year on the lunar calendar. This year’s host is the monkey, a highly revered animal known for in China as being clever, curious and mischievous. Besides macaques and gibbons, some notable monkeys seen throughout China’s cultural history include the Monkey King, Sun Wukong, in the novel Journey to the West. The martial art, called Monkey Kungfu, is another nod to this history with variations such as the Drunken Monkey, Stone Monkey, Lost Monkey, Standing Monkey, and Wooden Monkey.
To usher in the new year, festivities must be held. The Spring Festival has many similarities and differences to that of Christmas celebrated in the west. It’s similar in that family and friends will gather together and eat lots of delicious, home cooked food, give gifts and decorate the home. Its differences include the fact that many people will take or be given the whole 7-10 days off for the holiday. Instead of specific items as gifts, adults in the family will give children red paper packets with money (called lucky money) inside. And instead of strings of colorful lights and garland, they will decorate the area around the doorway with red posters inscribed with poetic verses or sayings and put out red lanterns. This is also the time of year in which you will see the dragon and lion dances along with rhythmic drumming, loud fireworks and even louder firecrackers.
This year the Spring Festival begins February 8 on the western calendar and on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month of the Chinese calendar. The festival will last up to 23 days, ending on the 15th day of the first lunar month in the following year in the Chinese calendar. The big cities such as Shanghai and Beijing will practically empty as many migrants and locals travel to the smaller cities to see relatives. Some businesses will have limited open hours while many others will shut down completely.
Those people born in the following years are labeled as the year of the monkey:
February 6, 1932 – January 25, 1933
January 25, 1944 – February 12, 1945
February 12, 1956 – January 30, 1957
January 30, 1968 – February 16, 1969
February 16, 1980 – February 4, 1981
February 4, 1992 – January 22, 1993
January 22, 2004 – February 8, 2005
February 8, 2016 – January 27, 2017
Famous people from today and yesteryear who were born in the year of the monkey include:
Western figures – Tom Hanks, Jennifer Anniston, Will Smith, Celine Dion, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonardo da Vinci.
Eastern figures – Wu Zetian, He Long, Yao Ming, Yang Lan, Eileen Chang, Michelle Kwan
Not sure which zodiac animal represents your birth year? Find out here!
Of course, celebrations are always best enjoyed in person, and Chinese New Year is no exception. At Set In China, we can help you find your dream internship amidst all the culture and history. Choose a short stay of one month for a small taste, or up to a full year for complete immersion and experience the Spring Festival for yourself!