Welcome to the year of the fire Monkey.
The Chinese lunar calendar marks the new year on the first new moon that falls between January 21st and February 20th. Each year is assigned one of the twelve animals that cycle through in a set order. The animal, along with the year's element, determines the nature of the year.
Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival in China, is a big celebration and the longest public holiday in the country. I've had the pleasure of being in China for this celebration in the past, and it's certainly something to see!
Almanacs are very popular in much of Asia and they contain forecasts for the year's strong and weak points in accordance with the astrological system. Much of the information is derived from ancient Taoist traditions and teachings and in many ways offers a very shamanic view of the year by assigning it animal and elemental aspects.
2016, has a fire Monkey year, is noted as being fast paced but without the high level of stress that previous years have brought. Creative energy should be at a high point and arts and inventions make headway.
Monkey is youthful and playful in nature, intelligent, hyperactive and strong minded. According to ancient Asian astrological lore, these qualities will be expressed throughout the year as 2016 continues to unfold. Scholars also note that Monkey is a highly active animal, hence, for many people, this Monkey year will bring travel and adventure.
Chinese will set off fireworks today to represent driving away bad luck. Cleaning is also avoided on New Year's so if you needed an excuse to put some chores off there you go. Another tradition is the wearing of red underwear thought to bring good fortune for the year.
While some of this may seem silly to westerners, these astrological almanacs and the traditions they chronicle stretch far, far back in Chinese history. Such ancient systems often offer a different perspective on events and potentials so if you're not familiar with the tradition, read a little more beyond the place mat at your local Chinese restaurant, you may find yourself more intrigued than you expect.