Today - Monday, February 8 - marks the Chinese New Year. It’s a big deal for 20 per cent of the world’s population - the population of China is roughly 1.3billion - but how much do you know about the celebration?
Chinese New Year is a 16-day celebration, making the western equivalent look decidedly brief in comparison. Celebrations start on New Year’s Eve - Sunday, February 7, this year - and culminate with the lantern festival 15 days into the new year.
Chinese New Year - how to celebrate
New Year’s Eve - Marked by a family reunion meal, giving lucky red envelopes (filled with money) to children and staying up late in celebration
New Year’s Day - Marked with the setting of fireworks and the offering of sacrifices to ancestors
Day two to three - Marked by visiting friends and extended family
Day eight - This is when most people will go back to work
Day 15 - Marked with the lantern festival, more fireworks and the eating of sweet dumplings
This year will be the Year of the Monkey, so as well as wishing your friends and family: ‘Xīnnián hǎo’ (Happy New Year), you may wish to try something more complex specific to a Monkey year. How about this monkey-themed greeting?
“Hóunián sòng nǐ wǔzhī hóu: jīling guǐmì rú míhóu, jiànkāng kuàilè xiàng mǎhóu, yōuxián fùguì shì hóuzi, wúyōu wúlǜ bǐ yuánhóu,cōngmíng línglì shèng sūnhóu.”
Translation, according to chinahighlights.com: “This Monkey year, I give you five monkeys: the ingenuity of the macaque, the health and happiness of the monkey, the leisure and wealth of monkey-kind, the light-heartedness of apes and monkeys, and intelligence and wit surpassing the Monkey King.”
Each new year is named after one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac. These are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
Like its western counterpart, the Chinese zodiac attributes certain personality traits to each star sign.
The personality of the monkey is thought to be mischievous and quick-witted, and people born under this sign are judged to be intelligent career high-flyers, but quick to anger with a tendency toward snobbiness.
Chinese Zodiac personality traits
Rat: Intelligent, adaptable, quick-witted, charming, artistic, sociable
Ox: Loyal, reliable, thorough, strong, reasonable, steady, determined
Tiger: Enthusiastic, courageous, ambitious, leadership, confidence, charismatic
Rabbit: Trustworthy, empathic, modest, diplomatic, sincere, sociable, caretakers
Dragon: Lucky, flexible, eccentric, imaginative, artistic, spiritual, charismatic
Snake: Philosophical, organized, intelligent, intuitive, elegant, attentive, decisive
Horse: Adaptable, loyal, courageous, ambitious, intelligent, adventurous, strong
Goat: Tasteful, crafty, warm, elegant, charming, intuitive, sensitive, calm
Monkey: Quick-witted, charming, lucky, adaptable, bright, versatile, lively, smart
Rooster: Honest, energetic, intelligent, flamboyant, flexible, diverse, confident
Dog: Loyal, sociable, courageous, diligent, steady, lively, adaptable, smart
Pig: Honorable, philanthropic, determined, optimistic, sincere, sociable
So which animal sign are you?
Here’s our quick guide to the 12 animals that make up the Chinese zodiac and the main attribute each is said to bestow. All you need to look up is the year in which you were born.
Rat (Wisdom): 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924
Ox (Industriousness): 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925
Tiger (Valour): 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926
Rabbit (Caution): 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927
Dragon (Strength): 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928
Snake (Flexibility): 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929
Horse (Forging ahead): 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930
Goat (Unity): 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931
Monkey (Changeability): 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932
Rooster (Being constant): 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933
Dog (Fidelity): 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934
Pig (Amiability): 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935