To some, it’s only the second new moon after the solstice, but to me, it’s the lunar new year. In many Asian countries and communities around the world, it’s a significant holiday. In China, it’s called Chingjie, in Vietnam, it’s Tet, while in Korea it’s Somal. Tibetans call it Losar, which predates other lunar new year celebrations, is calculated on the Tibetan calendar, so the partying is postponed until the following new moon.
In the lunar cycle, each year is associated with a different animal. I wish all animals could have their own year, but the inventor of this system limited it to only 12. I would gladly swap out Year of the Monkey so the platypus, koala, or axolotl can be feted!
This is how I celebrated in the year of the monkey!
Naturally, I have dashed out to the local US Post office and purchased armloads of the brand new year of the monkey postage stamps. This year, I will send out all of my party invitations and other personal correspondence with this colorful paper-cut-style monkey gracing the envelope.
Keeping with tradition, I carefully place some new money in special little envelopes.
Monkey tip: when shaking pennies from your piggy bank, it’s a good idea not to look into the slot to see if the pennies are coming out. Please, just take my word for it, ok?
I’ll give these festive red and gold envelopes to my family and friends to bring them fortune during this new year! The two golden fish on the envelope reminds me of the two golden fishes found in the eight auspicious symbols seen in Tibetan arts and crafts. They represent prosperity. Coincidence? I think not!
I like to start to get in a celebratory mood by decorating! Brightly colored paper lanterns transform even the drabbest room into one of festive cheer. A tealight candle inside them can add a magical glow.
This reminds me that I need to stock up on extra snacks in case the fire department needs to drop by to extinguish any unexpected fires.
This attractive arrangement of lucky bamboo is easy to care for and will bring me joy throughout the year. The red metallic twisty ties are a special touch that adds color and texture to the floral arrangement.
Besides tasteful decorations, tasty treats are always de rigueur for the smallest to the largest social gathering. Because it’s citrus season, I have chosen these yummy and attractive satsumas as a striking edible decoration! Lovely to look at, delicious to eat and fun to juggle! What more could one ask for in fruit?
I’ve whipped up a batch of special dumplings with a zesty ginger soy dipping sauce! My Chinese friends call these potstickers while my Tibetan friends call them momos. I like to make a selection featuring meat or vegies so everyone can enjoy these little bundles of deliciousness.
Call it Chinese new year, Losar or Tet. say “gung ho fat choy!”, “tashi deleg Losar!” or “kinga shinnen!” no matter what language you use – if you followed my examples here, you will definitely have a happy, healthy and festive lunar new year!
Now could someone please help me into my dragon costume?
Monkey Note: 2020 marks the return of lunar new year stamps to the US Postal Service stamp line up. Check with your country’s postage provider to see what they have in store for New Year’s stamps. Many stationary and card shops have appropriate themed cards and money envelopes like this little mouse I found at Itoya in Tokyo.