Lunar New Year: What the Year of the Dog is all about
Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, is widely popular. Here’s what we know about it.
16 Feb 2018
The Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is one of the most celebrated events worldwide. The date of celebration varies every year.
The traditions and celebrations go back in time and are transmitted from generation to generation; they welcome health, wealth and good relationships to come in the new year.
When and where is it celebrated?
Every year, the Chinese New Year starts on the new moon occurring between January 21 and February 20. This year, that will be on Friday, February 16.
In 2017, the first day of the New Year was on January 28. The celebration lasts 15 days.
It is celebrated in China and countries that have a significant Chinese population, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Mauritius, Australia, and the Philippines.
The Chinese calendar is based on the cycle of the moon. A month in this calendar is 28 days long, and an average year lasts from 353 to 355 days.
What does it commemorate?
Chinese New Year festivities are an opportunity to honour deities as well as ancestors.
It is believed that they originated during the Shang Dynasty when people held ceremonies in honour of gods and ancestors at the beginning of the year.
China adopted the Gregorian calendar in 1911, so the festivities were renamed the Spring Festival.
The celebration is rich in stories and myths. One of the most popular is about the mythical beast Nian, who would come down to the village on the first day of the year and eat livestock, crops and people. To keep him away, people would leave food at their doors, hang red decorations everywhere and set off firecrackers to frighten him away.
How is it celebrated?
The Chinese New Year is an occasion for families to gather and celebrate. It is known for being highly colourful, with people lighting fireworks and watching traditional lion dances.
On Spring Festival Eve, many people set off fireworks and firecrackers, hoping to keep away bad luck.
It is traditional for every family to clean their house to sweep away any ill-fortune and make way for incoming good luck.
Windows and doors are decorated with red paper strips and couplets about good fortune, wealth and longevity. Red symbolises good fortune in Chinese tradition; children are given red envelopes of money.
The family dinner is one of the most important meals for Chinese families. Getting home for that dinner leads to one of China’s biggest migrations every year.
In 2018, Chinese are expected to make nearly three million trips from February to March.
The Chinese Zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle; those born in 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are born in the Year of the Dog.
According to Asian astrology, your year of birth – and the animal it represents – set many of your personality traits.
People born in the Year of the Dog are described as independent, sincere, communicative and loyal.