Happy Year of the (Fire) Monkey!

monkey 2

2016 is the Year of the Monkey – specifically, the Fire Monkey. Read this short article about the Fire Monkey from Wikipedia, paying special attention to the bold words. All of these bold words are adjectives, some of them positive-sounding, some of them negative-sounding, some of them depending on the context. Do any of them describe you?

From Wikipedia:

The Fire Monkey is the most active and aggressive of the Monkeys. Naturally dominant, he automatically gravitates towards leadership roles and is competitive in whatever he is doing. He will need to be careful not to let this overwhelm him and turn into toxic jealousy.

He also constantly strives to be in control of whatever situation he is in, which can become overbearing. The main drive for whatever he embarks on is to head straight for the top and stay there. However, when he is in charge of a situation, his people skills kick in and he does nurture those under his charge who need it.

With his Fire energy, this agile, impulsive Monkey often leaps where angels fear to tread. This reckless behavior sometimes turns out to not be to the Fire Monkey’s advantage. However, he is very creative, dynamic and has a particularly good talent at drawing people to him – this often helps him get out of scrapes. He’ll leap from tree to tree – whichever has the most fruit at the time – then find the quickest, cleverest escape before others get to him.

In general though, the Fire Monkey is flamboyant and charmingly friendly, and has a large social circle.

Life Lessons:

The Fire Monkey’s aggression needs to be channeled correctly to correct and positive directions, or he risks become very destructive and harmful. If the Fire Monkey could develop more patience, it would be good for him and those who work with him. The Fire Monkey also needs to think through his ideas before acting on them in order to safeguard his own interests.

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Invite a Brother

Here’s another story from Changing Every Day. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your understanding!:


Sarah Sito

Many people believe that a person’s name has an important influence on their life. To Chinese people, it is very essential to name and combine the name with the hour of birth to be more balanced. There are also some names that are full of the background of an era.

I remember that my friend who was studying Cantonese called me. She was watching a drama at that time that was set in the past. The actress’s character’s name was Zhao Di, which means “invite a brother.” My friend felt that she couldn’t understand this and asked me, “Is it a common name or just for fun?” It didn’t feel strange to me at that time because a lot of old women in Guangdong have names with Di. Di means “her/his brother.” It expresses hope that the next child will be a boy. There are some girls that are named Ting too. That means “stop birthing daughters.”

My grandma’s given name was Yu Di, which means “meeting brother.” But her family name was Wu. In Cantonese, “Wu” and “no” are pronounced the same. When my grandma’s whole name was said, the meaning was “Can’t meet brother.” If they really wanted a boy, why did they only focus on the first name and not combine it with the family name? I really want to question them if I can.


To read more stories from Changing Every Day, click here.

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Our Laughter Rang Out on All the Hills

March 5 is “Learn from Lei Feng Day” in China. Here’s a story from Changing Every Day that mentions him. When you finish reading, take the quiz to test your understanding!:

My Childhood in the Countryside

Pei Ci Kuang

池塘边的榕树上,知了在声声叫着夏天,黑板上老师的粉笔还在拼命吱吱喳喳写个不停,等待着夏天,等待着明天,迷迷糊糊的童年。(Banyan tree at the pond, cicadas call in the summer, chalk on the black board, teacher still writes non-stop, waiting for summer, waiting for tomorrow, stumbled childhood)

Do you still remember this nursery rhyme? My childhood was spent in the countryside. I have fond memories.

In spring, plants would start to sprout, animals come out to get some fresh air. After festival, the temperature rose and rain fall increased, and it was high time for spring plowing and sowing. We expected to have a good year! When we were done after school, we queued and sang:”学习雷锋, 好榜样,忠于革命,忠于党’’ (Learn Lei Feng, good role model, loyal to the revolution, loyal to the party.) We went on adventures together, giving everyone a nickname: Corsair, Devil, Pirate, Sailor. Our laughter rang out on all the hills, and in the cave came the echo. Thinking the big people were telling ghost stories, we ran home, completely forgetting what we needed to do. When we took a shower in the evening, our bodies were full of mud, and adults yelled at us, “Crazy kids!” We smiled at each other, discussing tomorrow.

In summer, when grass and trees looked greener than ever, we saw flowers everywhere in every color we could imagine. We didn’t go to school, which left more time to play outside. We created our toys, using bamboo to make a gun, with small fruit as bullets. We played field operation on the mountain. We climbed up the tree to pick star fruits. We went to the mountains to pick up small black fruits. It was enough for our slender mouths to eat for a whole summer. We went swimming in a small river. We got together to enjoy the cool air on the patio. What wonderful summer days!

In fall, the roosters’ crows resounded in the morning in the quiet village and the alleys of small traders. A busy day started on the farmland. Everywhere were busy people’s shadows. Harvest season was coming! After school, our greatest pleasure was to fly kites. We used newspaper and bamboo to make them. They hung up in the sky, symbols of our dreams and our thoughts of our loved ones. We walked in the fields between. Everywhere was a vibrant scene.

In winter, water flowed in the quiet lake, sunlight shone on the lake, and birds flying across the river made ripples. The hill became quiet. We also calmed down, but we still had many activities. We played jump rope, flight chess, cards, hide and seek. That was our happy hour!

My childhood friends, how is your situation? Do our hometown hills look the same? Does the hometown water taste sweet? Do you tell your kids our stories?


To read more stories from Changing Every Day, click here.


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Sheep or Goat?

From the New York Times:

China said goodbye to the Year of the Horse on Wednesday, and on the first day of the new lunar year revelers welcomed the Year of the Sheep.

Or maybe the goat. Or perhaps the ram.

For English speakers, it is a can of worms.

“Few ordinary Chinese are troubled by the sheep-goat distinction,” Xinhua, China’s main state-run news agency, said in its report on the debate. “However, the ambiguity has whipped up discussion in the West.”

To read more, click here.

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