Today sees the new moon closest to the beginning of Spring and therefore marks the first day of the Chinese Lunar Year – and the most ceremonious holiday in China. Although China operates on the international Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunisolar calendar has kept its ceremonial significance. Every lunar year and zodiac sign is represented by one of twelve different animals. Each of the twelve zodiac animals are chosen and ordered in relation to the Chinese Yin and Yang theory. Apparently the yin or yang of the animals is defined based on the odd or even number of their claws (or toes, hoofs). The animals are then arranged in an alternating (complementary) yin-yang sequence. Because the rat has four toes on its fore legs and five on its hind legs, it combines the attributes of both yin (even numbers) and yang (odd numbers). This is perhaps why it appears as the first of the twelve zodiac animals. As this year is the year of the monkey we've been having a look at some of Karen Nicol's monkey creations. Happy Chinese New Year!