SBP Blog

Chinese New Year 2018: The Year of the Dog

Intern Intern - Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The dog: loyal, clever, bursting with joy, ever loving and unfailingly gracious—man’s perennial best friend. All of which, with the Year of the Dog officially kicking off on Friday, is naturally copacetic with us. But, in the context of Chinese culture, what is the Year of the Dog all about? And what does it signify? 
 
The upcoming Chinese New Year is going to be a particularly joyous occasion, with roughly a sixth of the world set to take part in festivities around the globe as they usher in the Year of the Dog.
 
One of China’s oldest celebrations, Chinese New Year—also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival—marks the beginning of a new lunar cycle and agricultural season. Culturally, it’s a time for loved ones to get together and take part in traditions designed to bring good fortune and prosperity over the next 12 months.
 

Because Chinese New Year follows the lunar calendar, the technical start date is not fixed; it shifts every year, falling somewhere between January 21st and February 20th.
 
The lunar calendar also rotates every 12 years, with each year corresponding to different symbolically distinct animals, each with their own particular attributes, characteristics, and qualities—both good and bad.
 
As per Chinese tradition, the way you think and act, your entire personality, is determined by the year in which you were born and what stelliferous animal was running amok at that particular time. This mixture of astrological kismet and ancient Chinese culture form the philosophical foundation upon which Chinese New Year festivities are ritualistically held and ecstatically paraded upon.

So what should we expect during the Year of the Dog? Douglas Chong, president of the Hawaii Chinese History Center in Honolulu's Chinatown, explains in an interview how this year is going to be very different from this past Year of the Rooster.
 
“The Dog has a great influence on how society thinks. It’s going to be much more introspective, very reflective and quiet. People should really think of what they’re doing,” Chong asserts. “But it’s a year to do things: get active, don’t procrastinate, don’t put things off—just get to it, but proceed with caution.”
 
According to the 12-year zodiac cycle, if you were born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, or 2018, you’re officially a Dog—no offense.
 
“Dogs are very docile. They’re loving; they’re humanitarians,” Chong says. “They will sacrifice themselves and their ambitions for the betterment of others. They’re selfless people and they’re very caring. And that’s the way the year is going to be. That’s why we’re going to be thinking more, looking within ourselves, reflecting on what’s going on in the world and what’s going on with our partnerships and lives.”
 

The Chinese believe that when it’s your year, you have to be extra cautious. So if you’re a Dog, keep your ears pricked and proceed with caution; radical changes are on your immediate horizon, for better or worse. Always be on guard, carry yourself judiciously, and make sure the major decisions you make in life are well-thought-out.
 
As Mr. Chong puts it, “For the people who are Dogs, it’s going to be a good year, but they have to be very careful, especially with their money. They have to invest wisely because career-wise and money-wise, they’re up to big challenges.”
 
Added to this, every lunar year is associated with one of the five Chinese elements: metal, wood, water, fire, and earth. This year will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958.
 
According to the official Chinese New Year website, Earth 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.”
 
Whatever your star-fated animal is, we wish you all—Horses and Rats, Dragons and Roosters alike—a very happy Chinese New Year! And if this is your year, be a good Dog, alright?
 

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Written by Nikolas Bunton

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