Chinese New Year is a time to honor ancestors, enjoy delicious food, and prepare for a new beginning. Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, the Chinese New Year is based on a lunar calendar that has a 12-year cycle. Each year is represented by a special animal: the 12 Chinese zodiacs. The animals are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. This year everyone will be celebrating the year of the dog.
Dogs in Chinese Culture
Dog symbolism can be found throughout Chinese art culture. They have been used as symbols of idealistic family life and high social status. For instance, in Chinese art, dogs were often included in scenes of family settings. Their presence in the art “reinforces the idea of familial harmony and prosperity as well as procreativity.” That’s not all. During the Han Dynasty, figurines of elegant hounds where made out of precious jade. Thus, these dogs became the symbol of high-rank society.
Beyond art, dogs have also played an important role in Chinese society and centuries of breeding have created a variety of unique Chinese dog breeds that are popular across the globe. Some of the most popular breeds include the Chinese Shar-pei, Pug, and Pekingese.
The Chinese Shar-pei, which means “sand-skin,” is known for loose skin folds and has been around since the Han Dynasty (c. 200 B.C.). Pugs, known for their “pushed-in” faces and curly tails, were prized possessions of Chinese emperors and at times they were even guarded by soldiers. The Pekingese, which is also a short muzzle dog, dates back to 200 B.C. In Chinese mythology, the Pekingese is said to be a cross between a lion and a monkey (marmoset).
Happy New Year!
This new year is especially important for people born in the year of the dog. The years of the dog include 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and, of course, 2018. People born in the year of the dog are thought to be loyal, honest, and kind, but they can also have trouble communicating their true feelings. Some of the famous people born in the year of the dog include Dolly Parton, Ellen DeGeneres, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Queen Latifah, Kate Middleton, and Justin Bieber.
Would you like to celebrate the Lunar New Year in your local community? You’re in luck! Many cities and towns across the globe celebrate the Chinese New Year with parades, festivals, or other events. For instance, in New York City, the 19th Lunar New Year Parade and Festival will be held in Chinatown. And in San Francisco, there will be the annual Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade. For more information on festivals or parades, check your local newspaper or community website.
Bonus. Want to learn more about the mindful traditions associated with the Chinese New Year? Check out this article.