Chinese New Year of the Fire Monkey
Year of the Fire Monkey
By Brenda Renee
“Gong Xi Fa Cai”! Year of the Fire Monkey
On February 8th, colorful paper lanterns, music, and long, dancing parades will decorate the streets of Asian-based communities, as red, red, and more red will explosively and passionately ring in the Chinese New Year of the Monkey! People will joyfully greet each other with “Gong Xi Fa Cai,” meaning: “Congratulations and be prosperous!”
Chinese New Year marks the death of winter and the rebirth of spring, which is why “congratulations” are offered for the survival through winter. This spring festival is based on the Chinese calendar. It differs from the Gregorian calendar because it is calculated on lunar/solar movements. Each year, the Chinese New Year falls on the 2nd new moon after the Winter Solstice. Thus, the Chinese year, which is governed by the Chinese astrological symbol of the monkey, begins on February 8, 2016, and ends on January 27, 2017 .
Inventiveness, Communications, Changeability, Problem Solving & Individual Efforts
These are some of the words used to describe Monkey years. If you are a Chinese Monkey, this year could be a little burdensome, full of obstacles to overcome. In addition to the return of your Chinese Zodiac animal, you are also receiving an astrological Jupiter Return. Jupiter represents expansion, growth and luck. By knowing which astrological house your natal Jupiter resides, you will know where to expect luck and growth opportunities. To find your Jupiter natal position, you may order an astrology reading at: http://www.mysticalempress.com/astrology-readings.html
Being the most important Asian holiday, Chinese New Year involves special preparations before the festivities begin. Homes are cleaned, paying special attention to sweeping out the old and making room for the new. This is a time to release unnecessary clutter! People remove trash and discarded objects through the back door during cleaning, (so as not to remove good luck coming in the front door!) After cleaning is complete, the space in homes is cleared by smoking with a sage bundle to remove negative, stuck Chi’, (life force energy). People also ring bells after the clearing to invite positive Chi’ into the space, and they strive to pay all debts and settle any lingering quarrels. Fresh, blooming flowers insure that the year will be blessed with good luck!
Decorations for the New Year are symbolic of wealth, health, love, fertility, and good luck. Many of the symbols are red or gold because red draws energy, wealth, and luck, while gold represents wealth. If you are ready to join in the festivities, hang paper lanterns from the ceiling and stick vertical red paper strips, Chun Lian, to the front door. These paper products are inscribed with well wishes. In view of the main entrance, place a fat, laughing Buddha who will be happy to greet guests. Facing the front door, place a three-legged frog to invite wealth into the home. Also, the gods Fuk, Luk, and Sau may be displayed to draw wealth, health, and longevity. In honor of the monkey new year, don’t forget to decorate with this magical beast, too!
On the eve before New Year’s, gather together with friends and family to perform a release ceremony. Guests will write intentions for releasing ideas, patterns, and habits that no longer serve. Burn these papers. Offer words of appreciation to Divine, family, friends, and yourself. Carry money in your pockets through to the New Year. Just before midnight, open windows and doors to release the old Chi’. At midnight, throw money over the threshold to represent incoming wealth.
Only positive vibrations are allowed on New Year’s Day!
Once the New Year rolls in on February 8th, do not wash your hair or sweep/clean your house, or else you could be removing your good luck! No quarreling and no words of death or illness. Even the number four is avoided, as it sounds like the word “death”. Be sure to wear something red to call in good luck and wealth! Celebrate through joyful activities, including making love! Gift friends and relatives with Chinese red envelopes stuffed with fresh, crisp $1 bills. Also, share tangerines and oranges to bless others with good health and longevity. Foods may include uncut noodles for longevity, red dishes for good luck, whole fish for prosperity, seeds for fertility, whole chicken for a happy marriage, and Sticky Cake for a sweet and abundant life (recipe below).
On Chinese New Year, create harmonious atmospheres, engage in joyful activities, and feast on good foods. You will be setting the tone for a wonderful new year! “Gong Xi Fa Cai!”
To start your new year off right, Mystical Empress is offering Chinese New Year 25% off Feng Shui Consultations, in person or via skype. See http://www.mysticalempress.com/feng-shui-home.html
Ni Gao, Sticky Cake Recipe
3 1/4 cups (1,400 gram bag) glutinous rice flour
2/3 cup brown sugar or 2 slabs (about 5 ounces) Chinese brown candy (pian tang in Mandarin; peen tong in Cantonese)
7 ounces boiling water
1/2 cup Chinese dates, softened in water, cut in half, pits removed, or 1/2 cup other dried fruit or 1/4 cup dates and 1/4 cup nuts
1 tablespoon milk
Water, as needed
1 tablespoon white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon vegetable oil or nonstick cooking spray
(Check your local Asian market for ingredients)
- Prepare a wok for steaming.
- In a bowl, mix the boiling water and the sugar, stirring to dissolve. (If using peen tong, break the candy into several pieces, so that it will dissolve more easily in the boiling water). Cool. Soak the Chinese dates in hot water for at least 30 minutes to soften. (You can also soften them quickly by placing them in a bowl with water and microwaving on high heat for 30 seconds). Cut the dates in half and remove the pits.
- Place the glutinous rice flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and stir in the sugar and water mixture. Add the milk and begin shaping the dough. Add 1 tablespoon of water to the dough at a time, until you have smooth dough with a satiny texture. Incorporate 1/2 to 3/4 of the Chinese dates, nuts, or other dried fruit as you are adding water and working with the dough.
- Grease a 7-inch square cake pan with vegetable oil or a non-stick cooking spray. Place the dough in the cake pan and spread it out to the edges. Decorate with the remaining dates, lightly pushing them into the dough. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.
- Steam the cake over medium-high to high heat for 45 minutes, or until the edges of the cake pull away from the pan. Remove the cake from the heat and cool.
- Use a knife to loosen the edges and then remove the cake. Wrap in wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
- To serve: Cut the cake into quarters, and then into thin slices 2 to 3 inches long and 1/4-inchwide. You can serve the cake as is, or reheat it in the microwave (the amount of time will depend on the size and power of your microwave.) Start with 10 seconds and then microwave an extra 5 seconds if needed, or resteam it for 4 to 5 minutes.
You can also pan-fry the cake, dipping the cake slices in an egg wash before frying. Use a small amount of oil so that the cake will not taste oily. Heat the oil on medium-high to high heat, then turn the heat down to medium and brown the cake slices briefly on both sides. (Recipe courtesy of Rhonda Parkinson 2001)
Brenda Renee’ holds Feng Shui certification through the Western School of Feng Shui, and a Master’s degree in Metaphysics through AIHT. Blending her extensive metaphysical knowledge in her consultation practice, Brenda is passionate in her quest of teaching others how to manifest their dreams. For more information, visit http:/www.mysticalempress.com/feng-shui-home.html