Celebrating The Year Of The Monkey In Honolulu

Kung Hee Fat Choy!

Now that New Year’s has passed, everyone in Hawaii is anticipating the next big celebration which of course is Chinese New Year.


Chinese New Year marks the beginning of the new lunar calendar, and is generally around the middle of January and February. This year it will be celebrated on Monday, February 8 2016. According to the Chinese 12-year animal zodiac, 2016 is the Year of the Monkey, and we are excited to be home to celebrate the Chinese New Year in Honolulu with our friends and family!

The two main reasons to celebrate the Chinese New Year, as with any new year celebration, are:

  • To celebrate the past year of hard work, and to relax with loved ones
  • To wish for a lucky and prosperous coming year

It is a time for families to be together. As people head home this week to celebrate the festival their families, the drop in temperatures in China left 100,000 travelers stuck at a railway station in Guangzhou.

The Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner is called “reunion dinner” and is believed to be the most important meal of the year. Big families of several generations sit around round tables and enjoy the food and time together.

Chinese New Year in Honolulu
Time for our reunion dinner!
Chinese New Year in Honolulu
Hot Pot dinner with the family during Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year In Honolulu
Homemade dumplings…yum

As 2016 is the year of Monkey, decorations related to monkeys will be commonly seen. Every street, building, and house where the new year is celebrated is decorated with red. Red lanterns hang in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with red New Year pictures depicting images of prosperity. Most of the decoration is traditionally done on Chinese New Year’s Eve (February 7th).

Many cultural activities are arranged during the festival. Chinatown, in downtown Honolulu is where most of the traditional celebrations take place. Events such as setting off firecrackers, ancestor worship, and dragon dances are common. A great variety of traditional Chinese products are on offer there, and interesting Chinese snacks, rarely seen the rest of the year, are available to taste.

Similar to Christmas, people exchange gifts during the festival. The most common gifts are red envelopes with money, which are given to children and (retired) seniors. Red envelopes are used in the hope of giving good luck (as well as money) to the receivers.

Chinese New Year in Honolulu
Happy New Year!

Certain foods are eaten during the festival (especially at the New Year’s Eve dinner) because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearances. Fish is a must for Chinese New Year as the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. Eating fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year. Other Chinese New Year foods include dumplings, spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes, and sweet rice balls.

You will see red underwear sold at many shops in Chinatown. Red is believed to ward off bad luck and misfortune. For people born in a year of the Monkey, red underwear is a must for 2016!

Chinese New Year in HonoluluThe next couple of weekends there will be celebrations in Chinatown (Honolulu). But the main celebrations are taking place this weekend.

2016 Chinese New Year Celebration will be held on Friday, February 5, 2016 from 5:00 PM – 10:00 PM, and Saturday, February 6, 2016 from 9:00 AM – 10:00 PM at the Chinatown Cultural Plaza.

Choy Cheng (Chinatown Open House) is Friday, February 5th from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Chinatown District.

You’ll be able to take pictures with the Miss Narcissus and Miss Chinatown queens and courts and watch the shows on the many stages throughout the city, with music, martial arts, lion dancing, and more.

Find out if you were born in the Year of the Monkey! And if so, better make your way to Chinatown to purchase red underwear before they run out!


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