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Chinese New year more reasons to celebrate

Don’t pack away your leftover fireworks yet. Chinese New Year is coming soon, giving everyone a new reason to celebrate. The Year of the Green Wood Monkey begins on Jan. 22, but events leading up to the big celebration starting from Jan. 10.    

The Year of the Green Monkey is the year 4702 on the Chinese lunar calendar. The name of the year comes from the stem-branch system developed by the Chinese to count the days, months, and years. There are 10 stems, the yin and yang of the five elements: metal, fire, wood, water, and earth. The branches are represented by animals: the rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, chicken, dog, and pig. The cycle begins with the wood rat, and ends on the water pig.

The Chinese use the two together to form a 60-year cycle that is repeated. The Green Wood Monkey is the 21st on this cycle, and the last Wood Monkey year was 60 years ago in 1944. The Green Wood Monkey and is the combination of the yang Wood and the Monkey. The Wood, which is symbolized by a tree, also signifies green, giving the name of the year.

The New Year is celebrated by wearing red, printing poems on red paper then decorating the paper, and giving children money in red envelopes. The color red is symbolic of fire and is believed to drive away bad luck. Fireworks lit on this day are also believed to drive away bad luck. In Hawai‘i, Chinatown sponsors a number of events to celebrate the New Year.

The New Year’s celebrations often begin one to two weeks before the New Year. On Jan. 10, the Chinatown Merchants Association sponsored the “Night in Chinatown,” a street festival with food booths, arts and crafts, entertainment, music, and demonstrations throughout Chinatown. The event, which drew more than 10,000 people, began with a parade at 4 p.m. that started from the corner of Richards and Hotel streets and ended on Smith Street.

On Jan. 16, Chinatown held an Open House Night featuring traditional Chinese Lion Dances. Considered a blessing, the lions are believed to chase away evil spirits. They also symbolize good luck, wealth, and long life. Local Chinese Lion dance groups visit the various nearby businesses during this festival to bring them good luck.

If you missed all of this, there are still other smaller celebrations that take place throughout the community. Go to for more information.



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