Happy New Year! Kung Hei Fat Choy! 恭喜發財!
According to the Chinese lunar calendar, the new moon on Monday February 8, 2016, marks the first day of the Year of the Monkey. To celebrate the Year of the Monkey, here is a selection of Toronto Public Library resources related to Chinese New Year and to the animal of the year: the Monkey!
Chinese New Year, also referred to as Lunar New Year, is observed around the world. Here in Toronto, you can celebrate with the largest Chinese community in North America, spread across roughly six neighbourhoods in the region: Spadina Avenue and Dundas Street West; Broadview Avenue and Gerrard Street; Scarborough-Agincourt; Richmond Hill; Markham; and Mississauga.
Chinese New Year celebrations often combine seasonal, mythical, and religious traditions. Clean endings and auspicious beginnings are a common theme. Some customary observations are: displaying New Year prints, poetic couplets, and streamers; burning spirit money; setting off firecrackers; visiting family and friends; giving lucky items, such as red packets (lai see or hongbao); hanging red lanterns; preparing special dishes; and enjoying Lion Dance performances.
The Chinese New Year begins on the new moon of the first lunar month. This usually falls between January 21 and February 19 of the Western calendar. Each year of the Chinese calendar is associated with one of 12 zodiac animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Hare, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.
There are various stories in Chinese folklore that tell of how these 12 animals were chosen to be in the zodiac.
The Monkey is the ninth zodiac animal and 2016 is the Year of the Monkey. The Monkey is imaginative, inquisitive, intelligent, and possesses an adventurous spirit. The Monkey may also be devious, opportunistic, selfish, and easily distracted. Those born in the years 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, and so on in 12-year recurrences, may share these characteristics.
Find out more about Chinese astrology, your animal sign, and what the Year of the Monkey has in store for you:
Enjoy this selection of works by or about notable people born in the Year of the Monkey:
The monkey is a popular character in literature and lore around the world, and is often a trickster figure.
- The Monkey King, Sun Wukong, is a central character in the 16th century Chinese epic adventure story Journey to the West (abridged and translated as Monkey) about a Buddhist monk's pilgrimage to India. Sun Wukong can transform into 72 different animals and things, and each one of his hairs can be transformed into a double of himself.
- Sun Wukong may have originated in the Hindu deity Hanuman, a key character in the ancient epic Ramayana. Hanuman can change his shape at will, become very large or very small, possesses great speed and strength, and is immune to fire.
- Curious George is a mischievous little brown monkey whose hijinks alongside "The Man with The Yellow Hat" are beloved by children around the world. In his first adventure, published in 1941, Curious George gets into all kinds of trouble: he falls overboard, sets off a fire alarm, breaks out of jail, and is lifted into the air by a bunch of balloons.
Humans and monkeys have a complex relationship:
- Fearless primatologists such as Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas have devoted their lives to the study of primates and primate societies.
- Monkeys and other non-human primates are used by humans in animal experimentation, such as space exploration and laboratory testing.
- The memoir The Girl With No Name recounts the author's incredible childhood experience living with a colony of monkeys.
- Some people - such as Emily Carr and Catherine de Medici - have kept monkeys as pets. Remember Darwin, the IKEA monkey?
Happy Year of the Monkey everyone!
Related Toronto Public Library blog posts:
- Kung Hei Fat Choi! Discover the library's Chinese language collections.
- 2014: The Year of the Horse
- 2013: The Year of the Snake