Welcome Year of the Monkey with creativity, high energy

Doreen Yu - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It’s a red-letter day on both sides of the Pacific today, with Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers, the most awaited sporting event in the US.

For countries on this side of the ocean, today is equally awaited, as it is the eve of the Lunar New Year, also called the Spring Festival, the most important celebration of the year. The festival is generally marked by feasting, family reunions, fireworks and dragon and lion dances.

The holiday is often referred to as Chinese New Year, as Chinese Emperor Huangdi is generally credited with introducing the lunar calendar around 2600 BCE.

The Chou period saw the addition of 12 animals associated with each year merely as symbols and as an aid in counting, but numerous folktales and beliefs have been linked to this zodiac. The most popular of these is that Lord Buddha on his deathbed summoned all the animals to come to him, and the first 12 that made it were honored with a year: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Each year in the cycle takes on the attributes of the animal, as do those born in that year.

In addition, five elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – exert their influence.

The Year of the Fire Monkey begins tomorrow, and expect the year ahead to be marked by creativity and inventiveness, but also high energy and volatility, as monkeys are rambunctious and hardly stay put. The first manned space mission to orbit the moon (Apollo 8 in 1968) and the launching of Facebook (2004) happened on monkey years, and US bases left the Philippines (2004) after nearly a century. The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami that killed over 200,000 also happened under the monkey sign (2004).

The year ahead will surely be eventful and an exciting time – especially with national elections – full of challenges but also of opportunities, and it is up to us – whatever animal sign we may be born under – to, like the Monkey, respond creatively and make the most of things.

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