Monday 21 October 2019

Chinese New Year: Why it is the Year of the Dog and other questions answered

Everything you need to know about the celebrations – and their lunar link.

Lanterns are strung across Gerrard Street in Chinatown, London (Victoria Jones/PA)
Lanterns are strung across Gerrard Street in Chinatown, London (Victoria Jones/PA)

By Emily Chudy, Press Association

Chinese New Year, often known as Lunar New Year, will soon be celebrated to ring in the beginning of a new lunar calendar.

It is one of the world’s most celebrated festivals, with the largest annual mass human migration in the world, as people head home to celebrate with their families.

Here’s everything you need to know about the annual celebration.

Chinese New Year London

When is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year takes place on February 16 in 2018, with celebrations expected to last until March 2.

That’s because the first day of the New Year always falls on the new moon between January 21 and February 20.

Chinese New Year London

What is the history of Chinese New Year?

According to legend, the beginning of the celebration began with the fight against a mythical beast called Nian, which looks like an ox with a lion’s head, and lives in the sea.

On the night of New Year’s Eve, Nian would come out of the sea to harm people and livestock; people would flee to remote villages to escape the beast.

After a villager managed to fight the monster, it was discovered that Nian fears the colour red, fire, and loud sounds, and people began to protect themselves in this way on the night of New Year’s Eve.

Nowadays, people celebrate the New Year by launching fireworks and hanging red lanterns.

It is unclear when the exact beginning of the New Year celebration in China was. It was said to start from a religious ceremony during the Shang Dynasty (1766 BCE – 1122 BCE), but some believe that it started from as early as 2300 BCE.

How is the date celebrated?

Chinese New Year is mostly celebrated with light and sound, including bell ringing, firecrackers, fireworks and dances.

Traditionally, children are given red envelopes filled with money by family members as a symbol of good luck and positive wishes for the coming year. Some teenagers now receive “lucky money” digitally through a red envelope app.

It is also common to sweep and clean the entire house to make way for good fortune in the new year.

Chinese New Year London

Where are the celebrations taking place in London?

The central London celebrations and Chinese New Year parade are the largest outside of Asia, attracting a huge crowd every year.

This year, on February 18, a Chinese New Year parade will leave from Charing Cross Road at 10am, and there will be main stages of attractions and entertainment at Trafalgar Square at noon.

There will also be various attractions, food and workshops around Soho during the day.

Why is it the Year of the Dog?

The Chinese calendar assigns different animals from the zodiac to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years, and 2018 is the Year of the Dog.

Ranking as the eleventh animal in the Chinese zodiac, the dog is a symbol of loyalty and honesty. According to the zodiac, people born in the Year of the Dog are honest, friendly, faithful, loyal, smart and have a good sense of responsibility.

Famous celebrities born in the Year of the Dog include Justin Bieber, Madonna, Donald Trump and Elvis Presley.

  • Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960
  • Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961
  • Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962
  • Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963
  • Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964
  • Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965
  • Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966
  • Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967
  • Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968
  • Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969
  • Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970
  • Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

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