Around the world hundreds of millions people, or rather over a billion if we are going to be accurate, are celebrating the lunar New Year this week with the New Year falling on February 8 this year.

Chinese astrology has 12 signs under five elements; Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat (or mouse), Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse and Goat. The five elements are Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth and the Chinese believe that the element influences the sign. This year is the Year of the Fire Monkey. Check out a Chinese astrology calendar to find out your sign!

Chinese New Year is an exciting time of year as the scattered population of Chinese people across the globe celebrate the onset of the New Year with lion dancers to bring good luck and firecrackers to frighten away bad spirits.

Traditional lore tells of a mythical beast that preyed on children in the village, to appease the monster villagers would put food in front of their doors once a year. However, one villager decided it was time to get revenge, a god told him that the beast was afraid of the color red so the villagers would hang red paper over their windows and doorsteps, wear red clothes and hang red lanterns. Firecrackers were also used to frighten off the beast, who never returned.

These ancient traditions remain in use today and a trip to any Chinese city or Chinatown on February 8 will find the streets filled with red papers, the noise of firecrackers, gongs and cymbals, and dragon and lion dancers to bring good luck to businesses and families. Family members and business owners will give juniors a red envelope with cash for good luck, good health and prosperity.

To celebrate The Year of the Monkey Child’s Own Studio presents a monkey softie (of course!), a lion dancer softie, and Chinese boy and girl softies celebrating their very own Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year with the traditional blessings of prosperity, good health and happiness! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

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