During my month long trip to Asia recently I noticed a lot of activity in transit between five different countries. The hustle and bustle was especially apparent at the major airports as the Chinese were making preparations buying designer clothes and fancy gifts in anticipation of the Lunar New Year (February 8) celebrations. Purchasing new items symbolizes new things and getting ready for a new start.
It is customary to pay homage to family and friends the weeks leading up to the New Year during the 15-day Spring Festival by exchanging gifts and sharing extravagant meals to show their appreciation and bestow blessings of good health and prosperity.
The Chinese are spending at duty free shops on items such as expensive rare wines and whiskey in Hong Kong as well as specialty foods and delicacies for their symbolic New Year's dishes (Eight Treasures Soup) including bird nests and dried fungi in Bangkok and mochi sweets and dried oysters in Tokyo. In addition, candied fruit melon, nuts, pumpkin and sunflower seeds all represent an abundant harvest and is beautifully presented on the Tray of Togetherness.
2016 is the Year of the Monkey. According to traditional folk customs, the personality characteristics of those born in 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, or 2004 include witticism, intelligence and magnetism (i.e, very naughty). It is also referred to as the Year of the Fire Monkey symbolizing energy, cheerfulness and confidence.
May the upcoming New Year be blessed with good health and wealth.