Happy Lunar New Year!
For those not in the know, for most Eastern cultures, this week marks the Lunar New Year, the Lunar New Year was technically sundown on Sunday (February 8th). Using the Chinese Zodiac, it is the Year of the Monkey.
To commemorate the new year, let’s take a moment to enjoy the cultural diversity that exists in our world and how we may implement the festivities and lore into a fantasy game world.
Okay, let’s pause and take a partial history & cultural lesson with the Lunar New Year. The Lunar New Year (or Spring Festival) is an important Chinese festival to celebrate the end of the lunisolar calendar year and the entry into the new year. The festival has many traditions and myths that stem back centuries ago, nobtably a time to honour deities as well as ancestors, it is a major hoiday for the Chinese and has influenced the lunar new year celebrations in all its geographical neighbors.
The evening preceding the New Year typically is an occasional similiar to the American Thanksgiving dinner, it is a time for families to gather and reunite. A time where the families welcome the new year as they give thanks for the previous one.
The main motif for much of the Chinese culture and their actions revolve around themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. All of these above are played often and fluently throughout the new year festivities.
Symbols, Customs, Traditions
The color red is symbolically adorned everywhere in homesteads, windows, lanterns, and even clothing during the New Year festivities. The color according to the myth for the festival was used to ward away the human-eating beast called Nian. Over the centuries the story more or less stuck and has become an integral part of Chinese traditions. Red as a color has become synonymous with celebrations, joy, happiness, and good fortune.
Dumplings (jiaozi) are eaten quite regularly during the festival as they resemble an ingot for wealth, but the preparation is said to represent packaging luck inside the dumpling to be consumed. Many of the food items and entrees during the new year generally are homophonous with things like “luck”, “wealth”, “fortune”, “money”, “plentiful”, “success”.
Like many cultures, during the new year, gifts are exchanged. The most iconic gift are the red envelopes, which are traditionally passed down from elderly or married couples to unmarried juniors (most commonly children). The exchange is to offer a token of good luck for the upcoming new year, the practice is also associated with money to be used in shrines to ward off evil spirits (early Eastern religions emphasized the payment to a deity or divine spirit for services rendered in regards to alleviating evil spirits or bad luck). Other gifts such as sweets also exchanged during the festival, typically if guests were to visit the homes of friends and family.
Fireworks and lion (dragon) dances are quite common practices during the New Year, the fireworks were part of the defense against Nian (as the creature detested loud noises as well). The lion (dragon) dances are also another method to ward and evict evil spirits from the areas of towns or houses.
Year of the Monkey’s traits
So this new lunar new year is the Year of the Monkey. The monkey is characterized as stronger, powerful, and rather intelligent. The monkey is often displayed to be clever and curious as well, but most importantly the monkey is generally displayed as a hard-working entity. Monkeys can also be vain, arrogant, and stubborn as well.
Monkeys are iconically pranksters and tricksters, while their intentions are all good and for fun, it oftentimes creates ill will and hurt feelings. Monkeys may sometimes have difficult with exhibiting their intelligence and creativity but the truth is that they thrive in the midst of challenges and adversity.
I hope you have been inspired to a different culture’s take on a new year that perhaps it might help inspire you for a similar event or festival in your campaigns. Perhaps you want to create a race of intelligent monkeys that fits into the world, or perhaps you want to implement some of these ideas in another plane such as the Feywild. Perhaps even, you want to create a small adventure/encounter that ties into the creation of the celebration and festivities such as dealing with a large man-eating creature that hates the color red and loud noises and the party much discover these weaknesses. Perhaps you even have your own zodiac system in your homebrew world and can use some of the traits for the monkey for a particular sign in your world.
The Monkey King!!!
The legendary Monkey King, his original name being Sun Wukong (or Son Goku to the Japanese). This literary character has been popularized in both live dramas, t.v. shows, movies, books, mangas, and even in video games. The Monkey King is renowned for his wits, bravery, and skill as a warrior, all noble traits to keep in mind. He was very nimble and agile since he possessed cloud-walking boots, and a golden-banded staff that could change its size and shape and even attack for the wielder if necessary.
So today on the blog, we are proud to announce the start of a series of ideas and publications for our mythical characters. If you were around for our Frosty the Abominable Snowman and our Santa Claus stats, we are continuing the trend this time with the Monkey King!
There is a change from our traditional display methods, we want to still let everyone have the right to view our work and give us feedback, so we now are launching our statblocks and future ideas as bonafide pdfs on DriveThruRPG and the new Dungeon Masters Guild. (We will have a further announcement detailing our future releases but we wanted to get this post out first).
Note: Click the image down below to go to see the Monkey King statblock.
Thank you always for your viewership and your subscription with us. We hope to do more of these sort of projects in the near future, we have some cool ideas in store, you’ll probably hear more about them through our Twitter feed. As always, if you have any questions or comments please leave them down below, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and you can also leave a tip in our donation section to help fund our future endeavors. Have a blessed, healthy, and bountiful new year!