Year of the Monkey

Happy Chinese New Year! I know most of you probably don’t celebrate the lunar new year, and maybe in previous years might not have known it even existed. However, this is a holiday that’s always been celebrated by my family, mostly on a small scale. 

As for every Chinese holiday, there’s a story that goes to it. The new year has multiple stories, and reasons why the new year is celebrated the way it is. One of the main stories is the origin of the Zodiac. Most people know there are 12 different animals, and depending on what year you were born, you correspond to one of the animals. There are different traits for each zodiac animal, other animals you are more likely to get along with or not get along with, etc. much like horoscopes. There’s not necessarily a better animal to be, though many people want their children to be born in the year of the dragon, or the rat (the first animal). Every 12 years, the animal of your year rolls around again, and this is the year of the monkey. Therefore if you’re turning 12, 24, 36, etc, you’re a monkey!

One of the things my family usually does to celebrate the new year is to go to the Chinese New Year Festival. There we watch different performances and eat Chinese food. Around noon is the main event: the lion and dragon dances! If you’ve never seen one of these performances before, it’s definitely worth seeing. Especially when I was a little kid, I loved watching these. Some of the performers are very skilled, but one of the cool things about the festival we go to is that the dragon dance performers are typically young adults – I’ve known some of the people who participated.

Recently we’ve also started a tradition with my friend’s family – every year we get together, alternating who hosts. It’s a wonderful meal filled with Asian cuisine, family and friends.

Of course, if you’re a child, you can’t forget the best part of Chinese New Year – red envelopes filled with money!

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