2016 brings in the year of the monkey. When I was in Thailand a while back, I got a first row seat to the Chinese New Year celebrations - a beautiful and exciting time of the year.
On the morning of the New Year celebrations we noticed that many stores were closed and there was plenty of red. We had no idea it was party time. It's believed that this strong colour could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune. People wore red shirts, red lanterns ceilinged the sky and red candles were lit to welcome the year on a high note.
Cafes spilled their tables and chairs into the street where people dined and watched as dragons danced down the alleys. The energy was amazing. The loud beats of the drum and cymbals together with the face of the dragon, or lion, dancing in a frenzied and aggressive fashion should evict unpleasant spirits.
I loved this guy who was watching the parades from his personal balcony and the mounds of insects and other unusual delicacies which lined the streets.
There are loads of New Year beliefs and traditions which should be followed to herald in a year of good luck. For example, one should wear new clothes, let off fireworks to scare off bad spirits and Nian, the New Year monster and pay off all debt before the new cycle begins. My favourite was witnessing the candle lighting rituals, incense burning and seeing rich decorations adorning all the already-golden temples (you can pick up that the Year of the Horse was about to start).
We were so lucky to be in Asia to catch this special event, here's to lots of monkeying around this year! If you live in Joburg, you can still catch some celebrations in Cyrildene on 13th February 2016.