Chinese New Year is coming... prepare to wear RED and celebrate on Monday, Feb 8th.
The New Year is approaching! And even if you have only just sobered up after the most recent New Year celebrations, this Chinese version needs a bit more of your attention.But what exactly does it mean? For Chinese people this is the most important holiday of the year. The Chinese New Year commences soon! Celebrations for the start of the Year of the Monkey!Monday 8 February is the first day of the first month in the traditional Chinese calendar. Unlike the Christian New Year, its based on a luni-solar calendar which combines the moon phase and the solar year. The Chinese lunar calendar is shorter than the Christian calendar.Did you know that a lunar month is around two days shorter than a solar month? Therefore, in order to catch up with the solar calendar, the Chinese year has to insert an extra month every few years.So, unlike the traditional New Year here in the UK, which can be expected to fall reliably on January 1, the Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year. And this year the event happens on MONDAY, 8 FEBRUARY! The Buddha is the most enlightened person of all. He is responsible for forming the 12 calendar months of the Chinese year.Legend has it that the Buddha (the most enlightened person), asked all the animals to meet him on the Chinese New Year. Perfect Plants has several Buddha statues available, including this Sleeping Buddha priced at £19.99 (+p&p)12 animals turned up to the meeting and therefore Buddha named a year after each one. The story goes that each person born in the year of a particular animal would inherit some of that animals characteristics and personality. The 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac includes a snake, horse, dog and tiger.What year begins on 8 February? Its the year of the MONKEY! Those born under this sign could well be intelligent, witty and inventive. They are good at solving problems, excellent group-members and high achievers. But they are also playful and youthful, with lots of energy. Monkeys are tricksters too, and they can be opportunistic and perhaps a little untrustworthy. Maybe unfaithful. How cute is this monkey? But monkeys might have their dark side too!Who do we know that are born in a year of the monkey? Leonardo da Vinci; Pope John Paul II; Harry S Truman; Eleanor Roosevelt; Mick Jagger; Bette Davis; Charles Dickens; Joe Cocker; Diana Ross and Mel Gibson. Elizabeth Taylor and Sylvia Plath were all monkeys.Celebrate MONKEYS! With a monkey puzzle tree! The monkey puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana, provides a puzzle for monkeys!Why is Araucaria araucana (the monkey puzzle) so called? It is thought that the tree possibly gained its name because it would pose such a puzzle for monkeys to climb. This evergreen has razor-sharp spines. It can grow to 50m tall and live for over 1,000 years! Its one of the most commonly mis-placed trees as many people plant it too close to their house, not realising what a giant it can become. Not all trees are perfect for the front garden!How to celebrate Chinese New Year? The traditional celebrations involve wearing red clothes. Red paper is decorated with meaningful poems and given to children together with lucky money in red envelopes. Chinese red envelopes containing money form part of the New Year celebrationsRed symbolises fire which can drive away bad luck. There will be fireworks representing the ancient tradition of lighting bamboo stalks. The red and orange crackling fire will frighten away evil spirits. Lucky bamboo is a traditional symbol of Chinese good luck and is now available in handy household designs. It is used in Feng Shui and can be placed to aid the flow of good luck around a home. Lucky bamboo comes in many different styles, shapes and types of pots. Bring positive energy into your home! Feng Shui is cool!Lucky bamboo towers, twists and spiralsmake a wonderful addition to any room and they also make a great talking point. Architectural beauty as well as luck what more could you wish for? The number of stems is important too. The more stalks you have within your Lucky Bamboo arrangement, the more luck it will attract! Whats more, its simple to look after. Lucky Bamboo likes to be placed out of direct sunlight and needs fresh water at least every two weeks. Mineral water or filtered water is best. It will last for years on just plain water alone. This isnt bamboo that pandas like to eat its a bonsai version that will be happy to stall small and neat. Architectural beauty, Lucky Bamboo is eye-catchingThen there are Chinese lanterns. They are lit at family reunions where shared meals are enjoyed particularly a feast on New Years Eve. Theres a Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first lunar month when home-made lanterns are painted with birds, animals, flowers and scenes from history. Parades of lanterns in the moonlight are part of the festivities. The Chinese Lantern Parade is spectacular!Not forgetting the Dance of the Dragons. The festival dragon is usually made of silk, paper and bamboo and it is held high by young people who dance as they guide it through the streets. There will be marching bands and floats to accompany this most important of Chinese symbols. The Chinese Dance of the Dragons is an amazing spectacle and forms part of the Chinese New Year festivitiesWhats not to love about Chinese New Year? Its a time of celebration of life, of family and of hope for the year to come.