The Lunar New Year is coming up on Friday, February 16. Also known as Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is the turning of the traditional Chinese lunar calendar, which tracks years, months, and days according to the position of the moon and other astronomical phenomena. This year, Lunar New Year is extra-special. Why? Because 2018 is the Year of the Dog!
Read on to learn all about the Year of the Dog, and how to celebrate Lunar New Year with your four-legged best friend.
What is the Lunar New Year?
If you grew up in America, you may know it as “Chinese New Year.” But in China, it’s known as “Lunar New Year” or “Spring Festival.” Lunar New Year is the most important social and economic holiday in China. This annual celebration usually falls between January 21st and February 20th, starting on the new moon. This year, it begins on February 16th and continues for 15 days.
Traditionally, Lunar New Year was a time for families to gather, feast, and honor deities and ancestors (source). It’s also day for relaxing and welcoming a lucky new year.
Lunar New Year also means two weeks of celebration! The largest Lunar New Year festivals happen in China and other nations with large Han Chinese populations. But America hosts plenty of festivities, too. Lunar New Year celebrations are especially popular in cities with large Chinatowns.
What does it have to do with dogs?
The Lunar New Year is a fun celebration every year, but for dog lovers, the Year of the Dog is extra-special.
Similar to western astrology, Chinese astrology has 12 groups, or houses. In the Chinese zodiac, these houses are represented by 12 animals, each one assigned to a year at a time. The animal’s characteristics are thought to represent the quality of the year itself, as well as the personality of the people born in that year. Dogs are considered lucky in Chinese tradition, so 2018 promises to be a lucky year!
We all know dogs are loyal, kind, brave, and smart. Well, according to the Chinese zodiac, so are people born in the year of the dog! If you weren’t born in the year of the dog, don’t worry. You can use 2018 as an opportunity to cultivate those qualities.
Celebrate the year of the dog
Lunar New Year is celebrated worldwide with fairs, festivals, and cultural exhibitions. Parades, firecrackers, bells, traditional lion dances, and more ring in the new year.
Here are just a few Lunar New Year celebrations happening in the U.S. in 2018:
- Seattle: The Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience hosts a celebration with games, crafts, and kid-friendly exhibits about new year traditions and foods
- San Francisco: Enjoy two weeks of programs including a flower show, basketball exhibition, and parade.
- Portland: Lan Su Chinese Garden partners with local non-profit animal rescues to usher in the Year of The Dog. Leash up your pup and walk to the Year of the Dog Fair for games, activities, and more.
- Check your local town, chamber of commerce, or university website for activities going on in your neck of the woods!
Of course, not every dog can handle a noisy outdoor celebration. If your pooch is more of a homebody, you can still celebrate the Year of the Dog together. Prepare a special meal for yourself and your dog, and make a toast to a luck-filled lunar year.
For some extra Lunar New Year education, check out these posts about dog breeds originating in China:
Featured image: 2018 Singapore Lunar New Year Celebration / Instagram