Year of the Monkey – 2016 – Gong Xi Fa Cai
So 2016 brings with it the Chinese Year of the Monkey. In the lunar calendar, tomorrow 8 February is New Year’s Day. Today in a last minute flurry of buying offerings for the gods, I found myself playing Uber driver for my Sister in law who in turn was responding to a request from her Mother to collect some roast pork from Springvale – a suburban Chinatown location with many Vietnamese who have made Australia home.
Tina explained that finding a parking spot would be difficult and I thought this was simply because it was the weekend and Chinese New Year eve in Chinatown. I didn’t realise that actually all of the surrounding streets were blocked off and stalls lined the streets selling everything from Asian delicacies to insurance and education.
I dropped Tina off and made my way into the carpark, overfull with cars prowling the rows looking for a departing driver. Expecting nothing I slowly drove around the carpark, killing time and as could be expected when you don’t really want a carpark, one materialised and I took it. There was a brief mobile matadorial moment when another driver vied for the same carpark, but politely ceded as I had arrived first. In an event I will attribute to the festive season, another departing driver of a car to where I had parked suddenly appeared. So we were all happy… thumbs up on a Chinese New Year eve. I will also mention that this driver was also a kindred Hawaiian shirt wearing person.
The smells, colours and sounds were reminiscent of similar markets in Asia. The Springvale streetscape had for the day been blocked off and transformed into this blushing red statement of happiness and celebration. I am always reflective during events like this and try to think of what the broader focus is of people participating in these events and their belief drivers.
Gods, worship, family and hope are four words that spring to mind. Four as a number is bad luck for those with superstitious beliefs and an Asian background… but back to belief drivers.
Click on any of the pictures for a larger view of the atmosphere at Springvale in Melbourne on Chinese New Year.
As a comparative statement, during Chinese New Year, families prepare offerings for the gods and ancestors… they don’t go and commit acts in the name of a god or gods. Worship and hope are certainly for a better year ahead and some folks think that this worship and prayer can be for materialistic outcomes rather than peace and happiness. Again praying for health, wealth, happiness, love is better than praying for the downfall of a group of fellow humans.
Lastly and most importantly – Family. In a few minutes I will be gathering for the most important and mandatory family gathering – Chinese New Year’s Eve. It is a celebration and reunion of family where any issues or grumpiness are washed or swept away in a celebration of the year to come.
Part of the fun of Chinese New Year is reviewing horoscopes. For me it is a bit like having a bet on Melbourne Cup day. It is done once a year and if you are like me, you know beforehand that the 5 dollars going into the sweepstakes is actually a donation to the person who is going to win it, because it certainly is never me.
So in the spirit of the Chinese New Year we reviewed what the Year of the Monkey has in store for me, born in the year of the ox and my other family members… Out of interest I also checked what was in store for a person born in the Year of the Monkey as it is their year.
I had assumed that if it is your Chinese Animal year, then it should be a good year… then Helen informed me that that isn’t the case and introduced me to a term Fan Tai Sui – Here is a very long explanation that involved Jupiter, moons and lots more… Essentially it means that just because it is your animal’s year… it is not necessarily a good year. It would appear that next year (tomorrow) is one of those years for those born in the year of the monkey. Click the link to find out what you are in for. Like any good horoscope, there is advice, good and bad prospects and sufficiently vague statements to ensure it can be matched to your circumstances.
I checked out my year of the ox and it looks reasonably good and one part about spending more money than normal has certainly started with the renovation work taking place on our Darwin house.
… As a matter of fact I am Leaving now and will return to complete this post.
Yu Sheng being prepared and tossed like a salad by all at the banquet so the ingredients, representing good things (see the picture below) are mixed and eaten, hopefully transferring those things to person consuming it.
In our restaurant, we constructed the elements into a single plate, extolling and announcing the significance of each ingredient before we all grabbed chopsticks and mixed it together.
We also had dishes like whole fish including the tail and head which symbolise a smooth year from start to finish.
After the meal we gathered for the obligatory family photographs…
…and few where Po Po (Grandma) was busting a move with the Grandchildren…
…before getting back to the formal pose.
A fantastic day and evening to see out the year of the sheep and see in the year of the monkey… before just a little more mischief took place…