Encounter happiness

The Fire Monkey who runs this blog sends you best wishes for an auspicious year!

The Fire Monkey who runs this blog sends you best wishes for an auspicious year!

迎春接福 Yíngchúnjiēfú“Greet the New Year and encounter happiness” — a traditional Lunar New Year greeting

Today marks an auspicious day that comes only once every sixty years: it is the beginning of the Year of the Fire Monkey. The last time we had a Fire Monkey year was 1956, the year I was born, as were many of you. So to all Fire Monkeys out there, let’s celebrate our special year!

First, a disclaimer: I don’t believe there is any magic or power in horoscopes, whether American or Asian. I do, however, find their archetypes and symbols interesting and often amusingly apt. The Asian zodiac has five elements, compared to our four, and the elements in the Asian zodiac rotate by year, not limited to one particular sign. In both zodiacs, I’m a fire sign. I must admit that certainly fits.

It’s a sort of zany coincidence that, of all the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac, I have always identified most with the monkey.  I see this mostly as a positive thing, though not completely. The monkey’s playful curiosity can be intrusive and sometimes annoying, as any tourist who’s ever lost a pair of sunglasses to one of them can attest.  And they can have fierce tempers that flare quickly, resulting in threatening displays of surprisingly sharp teeth.

But monkeys display many traits to which I aspire.  Clever, agile and observant, they are great fun to watch.  It’s almost impossible for me to study the antics of a monkey and not feel a lightness of spirit that corresponds to their nimble grace.  They move easily from one height to another, pausing only slightly to grab, usually successfully, at anything that catches their eye. On the whole, I think I flatter myself to say I’m a good example of the monkey personality.

What is your Lunar zodiac sign?  Do you see any similarities between yourself and the animal for whom your birth year was named? No matter your sign, I’m sending you a virtual Red Envelope with an imaginary thousand dollar bill, symbolizing my best wishes for good fortune and a wonderful year!


  1. Good morning, Julia!
    I’m a water tiger. It was interesting to read that “Hours ruled by the Tiger: 3am to 5am.” I hope that they mean 3am in China, otherwise, I’ve slept through most of my ruling hours! (Whatever that means!) Being a Sagittarius, I do have a “fire” sign (hopefully not completely extinguished by my water tiger!)
    Like you, I don’t take horoscopes very seriously. However, I have a book wherein I write down my friends’ birthdays, and I’ve been surprised by some of the similarities I’ve observed in my friends born within a week of each other.
    On the other hand, maybe it has something to do with how “bundled up” one spends the first weeks of one’s life? I’m sure that my snow suits and blankets kept me fairly weighted down those first weeks!
    Hugs to you, Fire Monkey! (Perhaps my Water Tiger will prevent me from singeing!)

    • How interesting that you are the same sign as me (Sagittarius) — on the other hand, Jeff has the exact same birthday as I do (except two years earlier) and to say that we are different is putting it mildly. I’m starting to realize that we are more alike than it seems; most of the traits we share aren’t that obvious. I do think that the season and climate in which one is born, as well as whether one is younger or older than one’s classmates, has a good deal to do with our later personalities. These are early environmental factors that could make a big difference, I think. Malcolm Gladwell has written about this as related to hockey players, for example.

      If I couldn’t be a monkey, I’d want to be a tiger! Whenever someone asks “what is the most beautiful animal?” tigers come to mind first for me. I love Blake’s poem about them.

      • I like the line:
        “Did him who made the lamb make thee”?
        Of course we know the answer, which gives additional meaning to your blog entry on 18 February.

  2. Good morning Julia!! Yes, I am a fire monkey also. Born August 21, 1956. Also a fire sign in Leo. I too, don’t put too much in horoscopes, but have found I do have a few traits of the fire sign. I pray for you and the family each day and hope life is a beautiful one for you. My eye surgery went well and Ron is doing so much better now. I love you! Cherie

    • Cherie, no wonder we get along so well! I’m happy your eye surgery was successful, and that Ron is doing better. Thinking of you and remembering you in my prayers. We really do appreciate your prayers too. Some days are easier than others, but all of them are a blessing in one way or another.

  3. Amy

    I am a Dragon which is said to partner well with your monkey. I will happily take that red envelope thank you and don’t forget the money amount has to end in an even number otherwise it’s bad luck. Love you.

    • A dragon! I am so excited. I hereby bequeath you my treasured golden dragon necklace (the one I wear about 90% of the time — the other 10% being dedicated to a diamond necklace Jeff gave me a few years back that is my SECOND favorite necklace, hee-hee). Jeff gave me my dragon necklace when I finished graduate school in Hawaii. There was a Chinese jeweler there who made these necklaces that came with fortunes. The one that came with my necklace says “Eternal vigilance, strength and courage are your legacy.” I told Jeff, if he survives me, I want you to have that necklace. 😀 I pretty much never take it off. I had to have the bail replaced because the original one was wearing through.

      BTW I read that about even numbers being bad luck and figured it was subtext for “if you give anyone less than $10 in a red envelope, you will have the bad luck of being considered cheap.” 😀 HA! I’m not superstitious enough to be tricked into shelling out extra money. I put $5 in Grady’s red envelope. Before reading about it being bad luck, of course. 😀 😀 😀

      • Amy

        I am sure Grady will be ok and was delighted with the red envelope. I would wear the necklace with pride but am in no hurry to have it. 🙂

        • OK, I will give it to you on my 100th birthday if that comes first. I know you will still be alive then because I can’t imagine living to that age without you. 😀

  4. Geez Louise, that’s one scary monkey! Like something that would jump out of the closet in the dark, LOL I hope that’s not one of the traits you recognize in yourself, tee-hee. I was at a website to find my Lunar sign, but I don’t know what time I was born. I used to think my sun sign, ‘Cancer’, was rather accurate. Extremely emotional, if hurt we hide in our shell. Nurturing, empathetic, homebodies. Apparently we have a great big imagination but can also hold a grudge like no other.
    Then there’s my ex-husband, he was the same sign but we were very different from each other. So he was either adopted and didn’t know it, or Horoscopes are huey. Never one to turn my back on a celebration, Happy Fire Monkey Year Julia!

    • OH NO, scary?? And here I thought he was adorable!! Actually I think I fell in love with that monkey in a store someplace many years ago, and bought it “for Drew and Matt” 😀 who were never as crazy about it as I was, so no surprise that we inherited him when the boys grew up. Maybe the candle casts too big of a shadow. He’s friendly, really! Next time you come we can have some photo ops with him and Alyster, though I probably won’t take him along to all the famous sights since he won’t fit in my pocket…

      Horoscopes are hooey indeed, but as with so much that is hooey, lots of fun. 🙂

  5. Happy New Year to you. I love the photo of the monkey with the candle. You had me looking up traits. I’m an earth rat. And it does fit. They fit right into the traits of our zodiac which is Virgo. Earth sign. I’m still a long way from catching up on reading and will try to get to it this afternoon. Hope I haven’t missed to many of your posts. We’ve had a bit of spring like weather here but going back to the gloomy rain tomorrow. Have a wonderful week ahead. Hugs.

    • Our older son Drew was born in the year of the Rat, but I don’t know what the traits are supposed to be. In the American zodiac, everybody in our immediate family is a fire sign, which pretty well fits with the history (no explanation needed, hee-hee — let’s just say that arguments lively discussions are not unusual).

      I’m so happy you’ve had some good weather! I’m trying to get up the nerve to get outside for a walk in the 40-degree weather here today. It’s sunny but I have grown extremely wimpy about getting out in the cold. Most of the snow is melted now, so I have no excuse. Hope your week is going well.

      • All I know about the year of the rat is that it’s an earth sign. So is my regular birth sign. My daughter and son are both fire signs in the regular zodiac. I don’t know about the other. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t spend a lot of time together.

        We so need a deep freeze or we will be overrun by bugs again this summer. The days are just going too fast.

        • Marlene, if I could, I’d pack up some low temperatures in a box and send them your way! Here’s hoping you get that hard freeze. This Zika business is making insects much scarier.

          • Yes, the bugs worry me. Our stink bugs have not died out. Everyone is still finding them all winter long. 😦

            • Oh, no! Those stink bugs have been in your hair (or should I say up your nose) for too long! We’ll hope some good COLD weather will come your way soon!

  6. By the way, I have lots of red envelopes in my wealth corners in my house. Thank you for the virtual one. We can all use a little extra.

    • Yes! With “a little” being the crucial term. I think too much of a good thing is still too much! 😀 About which, more later…

  7. Happy New Year, Julie!
    I enjoy watching monkeys too. I find them fascinating.
    I’m Aries…

    • Merry, some of my favorite people are Aries! Including my Daddy, my PaPa, and our older son Drew. YES, monkeys are fabulous to watch, and my very favorite are the Siamangs. I used to stand and watch them for a long time at the Memphis zoo. Supposedly they are the loudest mammals on earth, but what makes them remarkable to me is the way they swing so gracefully and quickly from tree to rope to whatever. This video will give you a bit of an idea how they move, if you haven’t ever seen them.

  8. Sheila

    Julia, I certainly know more now about Lunar New Year and Year of the Fire Monkey than I did before your informative blog. I found it quite interesting to read of all the festivities in London and also Australia, upon researching it more. My July birthday places me in the Leo horoscope. I’ve never thought that was very fitting, but who knows! I hope you’ve had a good week. I’ve thought of you many, many times. “Hi” to Jeff and Matt! 💛

    • Hi right back to you, Sheila! I think you make a nice lion. BTW, Jeff said to tell you he finished the book you sent; he said it gave him some lighthearted moments during his treatments, which is always a good thing. For someone such as Jeff who stays so busy, sitting in that chair on IVs for hours on end is one of the hardest parts of it, I’m sure. YES our world is an interesting place, always something to explore, even for those of us who travel mostly in imagination! Hope you have a wonderful weekend coming up.

      • Sheila

        Julia, I’m so glad the book proved to be a good choice, with a bit of enjoyment for Jeff. I chose it with that in mind! ✨ I think back to Bill’s hours in the chair that you reference, thinking of similarities. I suppose Jeff and Bill spent the time doing much the same thing. I admire both of them. We send our warmest regards to Jeff! 💛💙

        • Thank you Sheila! I agree with you about Bill and Jeff. I’m going to read that book next as I could definitely use some awesome in my life right now…so it will be a gift that keeps on giving. 😀 Thanks so much for sending it!

  9. blseibel

    Wow, I learned something new. I always thought I was a dog based on the placemats at Chinese restaurant and was happy with that. I was born in 1958 but apparently since I was born in January I am a rooster… a fire rooster. I am also Aquarius the water bearer, not sure exactly what that means and my daughter is Pisces.

    Monkeys are fun to watch, probably where you can spend the most time at the zoo as they are so entertaining. Thanks for the red envelope, that is a new concept for me.

    • A fire rooster! I wouldn’t want one to be angry at me, hee-hee. I believe that a rooster scratched me up pretty badly once when I was a tiny girl, at my great-grandmother’s home. My memories of it are limited to pain and that red mecuro chrome (or something like it) that they had to put on me afterwards. In any case, I’m glad you are friendly. 😀 My big sister is Aquarius and we always got on famously.

      I love the idea of the red envelopes, though I’d be in trouble if I had to hand them out too often. I sort of hate giving cash because it seems so impersonal and crude; the red envelopes might take some of the edge off it. Of course, I’d probably never turn down a gift of money :D, so perhaps my bias against it comes from being cheap thrifty.

  10. Raynard

    Julia first my rant and disclaimer. Is that groundhog throwing another log in the fire and did Noah ask him the weather as he entered the ark? I digress. After looking at a picture of that cruise ship that got caught in the storm last week off N.C coast the theme song to Popeye floats thru my head lol.Dealing with the challenges of everyday life inside of the Witness Protection program and looking at my picture on the side of a milk carton.I’m so glad the results of my cheap date err I’m mean colonospy wasnt Valentine’s day cause I would of atleast of of got some flowers lol. The drs were nice enough to give me a card but it wasn’t Hallmark. One is better than nothing lol. Hope all is well your way stay warm as this weekend temps in the single digits time to bake another cake. Be blessed.

    • Raynard, it is great to hear from you. I had been thinking of you and wondering how y’all are doing. Don’t ask me my opinion of the ground hog. I’m guessing he would have mysteriously gone overboard if he gave Noah the same kinds of predictions he’s giving us. Whoa, what’s this about the Witness Protection Program? You must have been up to something I didn’t know about. Hope you got good news in the card from your cheap date. Good news beats Hallmark any day. It’s COLD here too! But I didn’t bake a cake. So I’m sending you a virtual one — guess what flavor, hee-hee. No calories and zero preparation time, too! Hope you have a good week — give my greetings to the ladies!

  11. Megan

    I’m so impressed with your restraint on mentioning Fire Monkey #2, your grandson arriving this year! 🙂 Grady also shares many characteristics with you — it will be interesting to see how similar you and this baby are!

    • Megan, of course I was thinking about our new little Fire Monkey the whole time I was writing that post. 🙂 ❤ . I'm flattered to hear Grady shares some of my characteristics. I had never seen it that way…until I got the video of him opening his package of books. He shares at least THAT trait with me. He obviously loves them, already!

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