The Year of the Monkey: What Does it Mean?

The first full moon of the lunar new year is still growing as it leads us fresh into the year of the Fire Monkey, which officially began on February 8th.  The lunar new year is celebrated for 15 days, as the first moon grows into its ripe fullness.

Being Canadian-born, my first visit to Vietnam was when I was 19 years old and it was during Tet (lunar new year). I met my mother’s 10 brothers and sisters for the first time and we all prepared for Tet festivities by cleaning our homes, and clearing old cobwebs, so that we could welcome the new year with freshness. We also visited and swept our ancestors’ resting places, honoring our roots and creating clear space for peaceful continuation of our past into our future.

We paid special care and intention into bringing in the new year joyfully, lightly and auspiciously so as to set the tone for the entire year. No one was aloud to argue or fight (did I mention my mom has 10 siblings?) For real, nobody argued or fought. The first 15 days were spent visiting with dear friends and family, eating sweets, to bring sweetness throughout the year, and coin-like golden round oranges to bring prosperity and good fortune.

The first full moon on the 15th day is called Ram Lon in Vietnamese, and is celebrated with lanterns and festivities to cultivate positive relationships with friends, families, and nature to bring light into the year.

Acubalance is having our annual staff lunar new year party this weekend to celebrate Ram Lon and the first full Fire Monkey moon. So what is the Year of the Monkey about anyways? Well, I wanted to know too, so I’ve been doing some research. I started by asking my dad, who is a keener about cultural lore. He’s a 72-year-old Vietnamese retired architect, born in the year of the monkey himself. Clearly an authority on the topic!

He explains that anyone born in the year of the monkey should brace themselves a bit. A return to your animal year means that you are coming full circle, and with that there is always a process of shedding to make room for the new. This kind of transformation always comes with some growing pains.

How about for the rest of us non-monkeys? Well, according to my dad, the specifics vary according to each individual and their birthdate, but in general, the Year of the Monkey is considered to be an auspicious one. An article I read corroborates this claim, stating that birthrates tend to increase in the Years of the Monkey, as they bring good fortune. 

Because monkeys are known to be playful, creative, energetic, clever, tenacious, fearless and productive, the year of the monkey is considered to be a positive and optimistic year. And lucky for us, these characteristics are further intensified by the fact that it is a Fire monkey year too.

As monkeys move quickly and with agility from branch to branch, the year of the Monkey also brings change. We can’t know where this monkey year might take us- anything can happen. We must be flexible and ready to let go, we must not hang on too tight to old branches!

I came across a Zen proverb: “Let go, or be dragged.” Let these be our guiding words for the year. But really, Monkey year aside, these are wise words to live by anyways right?

What no longer serves us and our highest intentions and aspirations? What old cobwebs do we have that can be cleared? What thoughts, habits, beliefs, people, places or objects drag us and keep us from moving forward into newness, freshness and light? What old stuff do we have stuck within ourselves, our bodies, our homes and our relationships? Lets find ways to help ourselves let them go!

Chuc mung nam moi! Happy New Year, may the Year of the Monkey swing you and your aspirations to new heights!

With love from,

Dr. Alda Ngo

Alda Ngo