The Year of Monkey

The following article is based on my own interpretation of the said events. Any material borrowed from published and unpublished sources has been appropriately referenced. I will bear the sole responsibility for anything that is found to have been copied or misappropriated or misrepresented in the following post.

Ruchi Patel, MBA 2015-17, Vinod Gupta School of Management, IIT Kharagpur

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8th February 2016 marked the first day of the Chinese Lunisolar Calendar, the Chinese New Year – China’s most ceremonious holiday. This Spring Festival, the holiday is steeped in layers of myths and traditions.The festivities usually start on New Year’s Eve and continue till the 15th day of the new year. It is celebrated in many countries throughout Asia, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, and in other parts of the world where people with Asian heritage have settled. It is a time for families to come together to eat good food and participate in cultural traditions.

In China, it is customary for adult children to be home with their families by New Year’s Eve. This tradition leads to a massive travel season in China. Over 2.9 billion trips have been booked during New Year’s time in 2016. This festive season also calls for a lot of security measures in public transportation system. In Beijing, armed riot police and soldiers keep a close eye on the surge of travellers, ensuring a controlled form of chaos.

The date for Lunar New Year depends on the movements of both the moon and the sun. On the Gregorian calendar, the holiday will generally fall between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. The festival traces its origins to the Shang Dynasty (between 1600 BC and 1100 BC), when people offered sacrifices to gods and ancestors to mark the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year.

While the Western zodiac system is divided into 12 months, the Chinese zodiac is divided into 12 years. Each year is associated with an animal: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. People are said to be influenced by the personality of the animal that rules their birth year.

This is the Year of the Monkey, the ninth animal in the cycle. The monkey features prominently in many ancient Chinese legends. People born in the Year of the Monkey are said to be intelligent, clever, and gregarious, but also mischievous. They are skilled and smart, but shortcomings, like a quick temper and a touch of arrogance, tend to hold them back. Some famous people born under the Chinese Zodiac sign of the Monkey are Leonardo da Vinci, Julius Caesar, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Taylor, Tom Hanks, Mick Jagger, Daniel Craig, Eleanor Roosevelt, Will Smith and Miley Cyrus among others.

Although Lunar New Year is rooted in religious traditions, in recent decades the holiday has become a largely cultural celebration. The colour red is a representation of good fortune to the Chinese. The colour appears around cities everywhere in China during the New Year – red lanterns in doorways, red paper cutouts adorning windows, etc.

The New Year begins at different times of the year for people of different faiths and cultures, but one thing that is common to all of them is celebration with friends and families. Most of the time the only thing that changes after new year celebration is the calendar but beginning of a new year gives a hope for a new beginning in life to write a better tomorrow.

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