Happy Chinese New Year to all our Families and Friends
On 16th February 2018 we wave goodbye to the Year of the Rooster and welcome in a new Chinese New Year, the Year of the Dog!
Year of the Dog
The Dog is the eleventh of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Monkey, Rooster and Dog were in another country, helping a god defeat evil spirits. After, they set off to the party together. Because they arrived at the same time, the Jade Emperor went by the order they met the god in the other country. Thus, Dog became eleventh.
The Dog is also associated with the Earthly Branch (地支—dì zhī) xū (戌), and the hours 7–9 in the evening. In the terms of yin and yang (阴阳—yīn yáng), the Dog is yang.
In China, it is still popular to name dogs Wàng Cái (旺财). It means “prosperous wealth” and comes from dogs’ barking sounds (旺旺—wàng wàng).
Honest and loyal, Dogs are the truest friends and most reliable partner.
Recent years of the Dog are: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018
Paired with the Celestial Stems (天干—Tiān gān), there is a 60-year calendrical cycle. Although xū is associated with earth, the years also cycle through the five elements of nature (五行—wǔ xíng).
See the table below for the full details of each year.
|YEAR||CELESTIAL STEM||EARTHLY BRANCH||ZODIAC||ELEMENT||YIN YANG|
Personality and characteristics
A Dog’s most defining characteristic is their loyalty. They will never abandon their friends, family or work.
Honest and just, they are popular in social circles. Everyone needs a Dog friend for advice and help. They are also good at helping others find and fix their bad habits.
Despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside. However, they will not let this stop them. Once they decide on something, no one can persuade them against it.
|Metal||1910, 1970||These Dogs are traditional and attractive. They have high self-esteem and don’t like receiving help. But they like helping others, though it sometimes causes problems for themselves. They will take over someone’s position and it’ll open up a smooth road to success.|
|Water||1922, 1982||These Dogs are calculative planners. They focus on building a strong foundation for their future. But when faced with difficulties, they can become very pessimistic. They work hard, but should create bigger goals in order to use their full potential.|
|Wood||1934, 1994||These Dogs are trustworthy and polite. If given help, they’ll do whatever they can to repay the kindness. They adhere strongly to their morals and ethics. Others can find it hard to understand. They do well in jobs that require patience and will keep fighting until they succeed.|
|Fire||1946, 2006||These Dogs are dream chasers. They generally have smaller dreams that are easy to fulfill, which motivates them to continue on. When friends have trouble, they’ll give advice but won’t set out immediately to help. Every step must be thought out carefully before they act.|
|Earth||1958, 2018||These Dogs are stubborn and never give up. They aren’t very connected with the world and society. Though stubborn, they respect other perspectives. They believe that as long as they work hard, they’ll make it.|
Men born in the Dog year are straightforward and genuine. They are energetic, though they’re more pessimistic inside.
Very opinionated, they’re always ready to correct others and defend their stance. It’s not that they want to show off. They just feel it’s necessary to help others realize their mistakes.
These men care deeply for their family. Their stubbornness fades in the face of their loved ones. They work to understand and compromise, resulting in a harmonious family life.
Women born in the Dog year are very cautious. They are indifferent towards people they don’t like, and don’t trust easily. But once they do, it’s permanent. They are intensely protective of their friends and family.
They are genial and independent. They love outdoor activities and being in nature. However, they are also hard workers and don’t give up until they succeed. Security and a stable income are her requirements for a career.
Dogs are the most compatible with Rabbits. They’re attracted to the Rabbit’s kindness, while the Rabbit supports Dogs in the background.
Dogs are often pessimistic and needs a Tiger’s reassurance. Tigers also need a Dog’s loyalty. With Horses, both understand and respect each other’s opinions.
Dogs and Dragons clash strongly and are the least compatible. Neither trusts each other and they have intense arguments.
There’s a cold relationship with Oxen. They have different interests and can’t interact smoothly. Dogs and Goats are able to tolerate each other, but there’s not much else.
Lucky things for Dogs
- Colors: green, red, purple
- Numbers: 3, 4, 9
- Mineral: emerald
- Directions of auspiciousness: north, northwest
- Directions of wealth: southeast
- Directions of love: south
- Colors: blue, brown
- Numbers: 1, 7, 8
Careers fit for Dogs
Dogs are loyal and obey all orders. They put in their biggest effort to accomplish any task given to them. Because they aren’t satisfied with being worse than others, a competitive job would suit them well.
They are also sensitive to details and have strong reasoning skills. They see the dangers of being in a position of high status. This is why they’re willing to stay in the background and support others. They’d do well in a behind-the-scenes type of job. Dogs are observant and have strong morals. They judge everyone before deciding if the person is trustworthy. This makes them a good candidate for careers such as referees, lawyers and interviewers.
Health and lifestyle
Dogs are healthy overall, but the status of their health often has drastic changes. Though they seem resilient, it actually hides the symptoms that they may have. The smallest colds can put them in bed for days. Be wary of influenza and other contagious diseases during summer and autumn seasons
They should pay attention to their digestive system during their youth. Their biggest enemy is their unhealthy diet.
Once in the workforce, Dogs will constantly be busy. The stress will lead to headaches and migraines. In extreme cases, it can even lead to hysteria.
To create a strong base, Dogs should begin the habit of exercising early on. Taking breaks as needed and relaxing activities such as yoga are recommended.
Dogs in the Year of the Dog (2018)
The year of one’s zodiac sign is their 本命年 (ben ming nian). It is traditionally the most unlucky year with trouble and danger lurking at every corner.
There will be unforeseeable problems in work. The financial situation is quite risky. Dogs will also find it difficult to communicate with loved ones too.
In order to not make things worse, Dogs should keep a low profile. Thinking before they speak and act is the key.
There are many obstacles and arguments in the workplace this year. Other than working quietly, Dogs must try to interact well with others. Remember to defend but not attack. Financial luck is also poor this year. It’s not a good time to be greedy or ambitious.
Successful months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), April (May 15-June 13), September (Oct 9-Nov 7) and December.
The months with most work obstacles are: Lunar February (March 17-April 15), May, August (Sept 30-Oct 8) and October (Nov 8-Dec 6).
It’s hard to concentrate on studies. Dogs will be distracted by other things and they’re grades will slip. They should also keep a low profile so they don’t attract bullies. Dogs should also be careful of safety during activities outside of class.
Nothing too drastic happens to Dogs’ health in 2018. They should rest well to prevent fatigue and exhaustion. Other than that, Dogs should be careful of sharp objects, especially in June. They should also take care of their family’s safety.
Healthy months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), June (July 13-August 10) and September (Oct 9-Nov 7).
Months where Dogs must be careful with their health are: Lunar January (Feb 16-March 16), April (May 15-June 13) and October (Nov 8-Dec 6).
The social life this year will be full of headaches. There are arguments both at home and outside. Dogs must communicate and resolve conflicts. Otherwise, they may find themselves alone by the end of the year.
The sweet months are: Lunar March (April 16-May 14), September (Oct 9-Nov 7) and December (Jan 6-Feb 4, 2019).
Months where relationship problems will easily occur are: Lunar February (March 17-April 15), June (July 13-August 10), July (August 11-Sept 9) and August (Sept 30-Oct 8).
The directions of fortune and wealth for Dogs this year are the southeast, southwest and north. It would be the best to put the bed, worktable and sofa in these positions of the room. To avoid bad luck, do not put important furniture in the south and east.
Lucky numbers that will open the road to wealth are 4 and 6.
The lucky colors in 2018 are yellow, red and orange. Decorating the home or wearing these colors will help greatly with changing luck for the better. Colors to avoid are green and gray.
Overall, this is a year that Dogs must get through.
It’s the Chinese tradition to wear red underwear every day during their zodiac year. Dogs can try this to ward off the bad luck.
Once past this year, Dogs can continue on their steady and quiet road to happiness.
Chinese New Year
Chinese New Year is the main Chinese festival of the year. As the Chinese use the Lunar calendar for their festivals the date of Chinese New Year changes from year to year. The date corresponds to the new moon (black moon) in either late January or February.
Traditionally celebrations last for fifteen days, ending on the date of the full moon. In China the public holiday lasts for three days and this is the biggest celebration of the year.
The Chinese calendar is different from that used in the United Kingdom. It is made up of a cycle of twelve years, each of them being named after an animal. This is very like our signs of the zodiac. Some people believe that people born in a particular year such as the year of the Dog will have some of the characteristics of that animal.
The Chinese zodiac follows a twelve year cycle, each of the years being named after an animal. The Chinese believe that people born in a particular year take on the characteristics of the animal associated with that year.
Chinese New Year Decorations
Chinese New Year is a time when families get together to celebrate. It is also a special time to remember members of the family who have died. In the days coming up to New Year every family buys presents, decorations, food, new clothes and people have their hair cut. Houses are cleaned from top to bottom. The aim is to sweep out any bad luck from the old year and clear the way for good luck. However, it is bad luck to clean on New Years Day itself.
Families put lights up outside their homes, rather like Christmas lights. Doors and windows are often newly painted in red. On New Years Eve both narrow strips of red paper, called Chunlian or Spring Couplets, and bunches of firecracker decorations are hung on doors to bring good luck.
In the first three days of Chinese New Year celebrations, people living outside cities can light firecrackers which are similar to rows of fireworks, but which make a series of loud bangs. The idea is that the bangs scare away bad luck. People hang bunches of decorative firecrackers both inside and outside their homes for the same reason. Find out how you can make a simple firecracker wall hanging decoration.
At Chinese New Year, these Chinese fish decorations are everywhere. The reason for this is that the Chinese word for ‘fish’ sounds exactly the same as the Chinese word for ‘abundance’ which means having more than you need of something. By hanging up fish decorations Chinese people are hoping that in the New Year they will have wealth and prosperity.
Tangerines and Oranges
Both of these fruits are important Chinese New Year symbols that represent abundant happiness. The reason for this is that the Chinese word for tangerine sounds like the word for ‘luck’ and the Chinese word for orange sounds like the Chinese word for ‘wealth’. So at Chinese New Year these fruits are laid out in the home to bring good luck and good fortune in the coming year. When visiting other people it is usual to take a gift of a bag of oranges and tangerines.
Plum and Peach Blossom
At Chinese New Year people decorate their homes with fruit blossoms to symbolise the start of a cycle which will result in a plentiful crop of fruit later in the year. Peach blossoms symbolise long life, romance and prosperity so are favoured by single people looking for love in the coming year. Plum blossoms symbolise being a reliable person who will keep trying even though things may get difficult.
Yuanbao also known as Sycee
A yuanbao is a silver or gold boat shaped ingot with a little bump in the middle. These used to be the first type of money in ancient China. Today at the New Year, Chinese people display imitation gold ingots to attract wealth into their home or office.
Firecracker hangings are hung outside homes to scare off evil spirits and misfortune on New Years Eve. They are symbolic of the noisy firecrackers which frightened away the legendary monster Nian. Check out our instructions and template showing how to make your own firecracker decorations.
Chinese Red Lanterns
A red lantern is not only a symbol of luck and prosperity but people hang them as a means of ‘lighting the way’ for the family’s Kitchen God on an important annual mission to see the Jade Emperor. People want the Kitchen God to give a good report of the family to the Jade Emperor so that they have a good harvest and make more money in the forthcoming year. Lanterns also help the Kitchen God find the door of their house on the way back.
The Chunlian decorations are marked with messages of good fortune such as happiness, prosperity and long life, known as Spring Couplets. These mostly have four gold Chinese characters, which are called Hui Chun. The man in the photograph below is writing a message for a customer at his stall.
The colour red is chosen for two reasons. The first is because red is a lucky colour and the second because it is supposed to frighten off the monster Nian who is thought to come on New Years Eve. The colour gold represents wealth. Families also decorate their homes with lanterns and put stickers on things in their homes.
Chinese New Year Family Celebrations
Everyone comes together for dinner which is a feast. A popular food is ‘jiaozi’ which are dumplings boiled in water. These dumplings are prepared on New Years Eve and served right after midnight with garlic-soy sauce. A coin is often hidden in one of them. It is thought to be lucky to be the person who finds the coin. The dumplings are shaped like gold and silver bars in the hope that they will bring good luck and good fortune. It is believed that the spirits of the family’s ancestors are also at the meal and food is prepared for them.
After dinner the family sit up playing card games or board games such as Chinese chess. Every light is supposed to be kept on until midnight when there are fireworks and firecrackers which are meant to scare off evil spirits.
Early on New Years Day children receive lucky red packets called ‘Hong Bao’ containing sweets or money. Chinese children love these.They are usually given them by their parents or grandparents, but it is considered rude to open the envelopes in front of the person who has given it.
Later on the paper seals on the houses are broken, red clothes worn for luck and visits are made to family and friends. It is a good time to be friendly to others and forget old arguments. People greet each other by saying ‘Kung Hei Fat Choy!‘, which means Happy New Year!
The traditional lion dance seen at Chinese New Year originates from the legend of the monster known as Nian. You can read all about the legend in our illustrated Story of Nian.
Street celebrations often include a performance of the lion dance which is thought to bring good luck. There are usually two dancers. One acts as the head and the other the body. They dance to a drum, cymbals and a gong. On the head of the lion is mirror so that evil spirits will be frightened away by their own reflections. As the lion runs along the streets he begins to visit different places. On his way he meets another person, the ‘Laughing Buddha’ who is dressed in monk’s robes and a mask. He teases the lion with a fan made of banana-leaves which makes the lion jump around.
Dragons are of course legendary animals, but they are important to Chinese people who think of dragons as helpful, friendly creatures. They are linked to good luck, long life and wisdom. They are nothing like the fierce, fire-breathing Western dragons that carry off princesses and eat people. Chinese Dragons are associated with storm clouds and life-giving rain. They have special powers so they can fly in the air, swim in the sea and walk on land. The Dragon has features of other animals such as the horns of a stag, the scales of a fish and the footpads of a tiger.