The Chinese New Year is just around the corner and is the most important social and economic holiday in China. Celebrations for the Chinese (or Lunar) New Year – now more commonly known as the Spring Festival – begins somewhere between January 21 and February 20, at the turn of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. In 2016, the Chinese New Year begins on Monday, February 8, kicking off a week-long public holiday in China.
Traditionally, Chinese New Year is a time for all business activities to come to a complete stop, with families coming together and becoming the focus of the holiday. Homes are cleaned from top to bottom to appease the gods who would come to inspect them and to banish the ominous breaths (or ‘huiqi’) that had gathered over the course of the previous year. Food and paper symbols are offered to the gods, scrolls with lucky messages are hung from gates, firecrackers are set off and the elderly give children money. Most importantly, the family gathers to enjoy a feast, with fish served last to symbolise abundance.
Throughout most of the 20th century, China used the Western Gregorian calendar and celebrated New Year’s Day on January 1. But in 1996 the government reintroduced the traditional Chinese New Year – called the Spring Festival – and launched an annual week-long public holiday so people could go home and celebrate with family. However, younger Chinese – particularly university students – use the time to relax, watch TV and celebrate with friends instead of going home to family. While the celebrations now have very little to do with religion and the focus for the younger generations has changed, the Chinese still place great importance on the zodiacal animals and what a newborn child can expect depending on the year they are born.
How does the Chinese calendar work?
The traditional Chinese calendar is a constantly changing measurement of time. A particular moment in the calendar is dependent on lunar phases, solar solstices, equinoxes and the principals of yin and yang that are so deeply entrenched in Chinese culture. Also influencing the calendar is the Chinese zodiac – made up of 12 signs found along the path of the sun through the cosmos – and the five elements of Chinese astrology. Each sign is represented by one of the zodiacal animals – rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig – and each year, in a 12-year cycle, is characterised by one them. The five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – change every two years and alternate each year with a yin then a yang. Therefore a 10-year cycle of elements would be yin wood, yang wood, yin fire, yang fire, yin earth, etc.
What’s the significance of the year of the monkey?
2016 is the year of the yin fire monkey – known to be ambitious, adventurous and irritable. It’s considered to be a particularly unlucky year to be born according to Chinese traditions and in subsequent monkey years (12, 24, 36, etc.) it’s recommended those born in 2016 should pay close attention to their health, love life, career and investments. However, it’s thought that 2016 may be a good year for their careers if they stay disciplined and that an unexpected financial windfall could be coming their way. However,, health problems will be an issue so they need to take good care of themselves, especially when it comes to staying safe in traffic and eating healthy foods.
There are many lucky and unlucky omens for a monkey. Lucky omens include:
- Numbers: 4 and 9
- Days: 14th and 28th of any Chinese lunar calendar month
- Colours: white, blue and gold
- Flowers: chrysanthemum and crape-myrtle
- Directions: north, northwest and west
- Months: Chinese lunar months 8 and 12
Unlucky omens include:
- Colours: red and pink
- Numbers: 2 and 7
- Directions: south and southwest
- Months: Chinese lunar months 7 and 11
Relationships may also be an issue in 2016 for those born in a year of the monkey. They can expect a rather bland year for love as the more they try the further away it will get. However,, the best chance for monkeys to find romance is in the seventh and twelfth Chinese lunar months, so they must seize the opportunities when they arise. Unfortunately, monkeys aren’t compatible with all animals of the Chinese zodiac so they must be aware of which sign will give them the best chance and select accordingly:
- Best compatibility: Ox and rabbit
- Complimentary: Rat, dragon, goat and dog
- Good friend: Snake and monkey
- Average: Horse and rooster
- Worst: Tiger and pig
How is the Chinese New Year celebrated in Australia?
Chinatown precincts around the world come alive during Chinese New Year celebrations and Australia is no different. Street festivals with arts, entertainment and children’s activities; markets; music and dance; costumes; and traditional displays of celebration including Chinese lanterns, firecrackers and fireworks are all part of the festivities. In Melbourne, over 200 people carry the Millennium Dai Loong Dragon through the streets of Chinatown while Sydney’s celebrations run for three weeks and feature the Grand Parade, Dragon Boat and Sedan Chair Races, and various night markets. Other cities around Australia have their own events to celebrate the occasion. Chinese families come together to share a meal at this time and children are given money in red envelopes.
If you’re looking for a venue to celebrate Chinese New Year, MàZi Restaurant at Lantern Club in Roselands has an outstanding menu everyone can enjoy. Our chefs have put together a selection of dishes worthy of any special family celebration and we can cater for large groups.
To reserve your table for groups of 10 or less, make an online booking and it will be confirmed within 24 hours via return email. For booking requests within 24 hours of the day you wish to dine, call us on (02) 8037 8200. For groups of 11+ people, make an online booking on our group bookings page or call our Food and Beverage Manager on (02) 8037 8200 to discuss menu options and make a reservation.
We hope to see you at MàZi Restaurant at Lantern Club on February 8 to celebrate the Chinese New Year with us. See you then!
© Lantern Club, Roselands