Year of the Fire Monkey

Chinese Lunar Year 4714

February 8, 2016 – January 27, 2017



Aikido is practiced internationally in over 125 countries.  The Founder of Aikido, O’Sensei was first and foremost an ardent Japanese national.  His spiritual and martial experience is manifested in today’s Aikido training.  This site has described numerous Japanese customs and traditions like kagami biraki.  But this post focuses on a Chinese cultural event “the spring festival” generally known as Chinese New Year.

This year is that of the “fire monkey” and is an important event for 1.4 billion ethnic Chinese. While the Chinese government renamed the event “Spring Festival” so as images-3not to be confused with the western Gregorian calendar’s new year, it remains an official holiday, a tradition and the single biggest event of the Chinese year. Custom has families gathering for their annual reunion dinner on New Years Eve, which is named “Nian Ye Fan.” The celebration ends with the “lantern festival” on the 15th night. Many customs, such as hanging red lanterns, gifts of money in red envelopes, fireworks, lion dance, specific foods etc. are shrouded in legend.

The following story being the basis:

The beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian. Nian would come on the first day of the year to eat livestock, crops, and even villagers. For protection, the villagers would put food in front of their doors. It was believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people.

nian2-640x438 One-day people saw that the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red. The villagers then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. When the New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and red spring scrolls on windows and doors. People also painted their front doors red and used firecrackers to frighten away the Nian. From then on, Nian never came to the village again.


The phrase “Gong Hei Fat Choi” is often said during the images-4celebration. The phrase loosely translates to “Congratulations and be prosperous,” and is often mistaken in the west as synonymous with our “Happy New Year.” The Chinese have several other sayings to convey good tidings during the celebration. None translate directly into the western phrase. But all are meant as blessed and with good intent.


Celebrate “The Year of the Monkey” and wear one of these lucky shirts (available in 5 colors – adult men, women and youth sizing).

Get Your Shirt Here