The Lunar New Year dates from 2600 BC, when the Emperor Huang Ti introduced the first cycle of the Chinese zodiac.
Because of cyclical lunar dating, the first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February.
On the Western calendar, the start of Chinese New Year this year falls on Friday, February 16, 2018 The Year of the Dog.
If you were born in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006 or 2018, you were born under the sign of the dog.
What it means to be born in the Year of the Dog
And it might come as no surprise that dog personalities often exhibit an amiable nature and unwavering loyalty to friends and loved ones.
In their younger years dogs may be nervously hyper-alert, and may bark and bite at any perceived threat. But as they mature, dogs often become more sure of themselves and remain aloof from those that anger them, especially loved ones, but they will aways remain devoted.
In the larger social spectrum, a dog can always be relied upon to speak up in defense of the downtrodden -- as the basic ideal of upholding justice becomes more finally tuned. With their considerable talents and innate qualities, those born under the sign of the dog usually excel as social activists, teachers, nurses or doctors.
Famous people born under the Sign of the Dog include Cher, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Dorothea Dix, Benjamin Franklin, George Gershwin, Jane Goodall, Herbert Hoover, Madonna, and Shirley McLaine.
Celebrating Chinese New Year - it's a family affair
In Chinese culture, the new year is a time to begin again. It's little wonder why Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring festival with hope for better times ahead. Families are outfitted in new clothes, front doors are freshly painted, homes are scrubbed sparkling clean, and banners are hung to declare a very Happy New Year to all!
Of course, food -- and lots of it -- is the centerpiece of any Chinese New Year celebration, and entire books could be written on various Chinese New Year food traditions that have originated over the centuries. As an example, carp is a main dish because the fish represents strength and endurance. For desert, oranges and tangerines are often featured since their Chinese names sound like "gold" and "wealth".
The colors of the new year are red and gold, signs of good luck and prosperity. During family get-togethers, gifts are exchanged and red envelopes are filled with "lucky" money for children.
Chinese New Year as public spectacle
And what would Chinese New Year be without the brightly lit lanterns, firecrackers, and a great dragon dance?
A dragon weaves through the streets of Paris during
a Chinese New Year
The longer the dragon, the better chance for good luck throughout the year.
One of the most auspicious signs in the Chinese zodiac, the dragon is a traditional symbol of good luck and prosperity among the Chinese. During the New Year, the beast is sure to make an appearance doing its snake-like dance via team of street dancers -- who manipulate a long flexible figure of a dragon using poles positioned along its length. The longer the dragon, the more luck it will bring -- with some dragons stretching a 100 feet or more in length.
During the grand spectacle, firecrackers usually go off with a loud bang in order to ward off any chance of evil spirits getting in the way of all the fun!
Finally, just like Christmas lights that help to dispel the darkest days of winter, the traditional Chinese lantern festival plays a prominent part within the new year tradition. Strewn through neighborhood streets and marketplaces. these bright symbols of hope mark the return of better days as winter finally retreats -- and spring moves forward!
Happy New Year!
More about Chinese New Year around the Web:
Around the Web, learn more about Chinese New Year celebrations in the U.S. and worldwide, browse festive clip art and e-mail greetings, or read up on holiday customs and folklore.
Chinese New Year - Here's a great intro to the festivities, with brief descriptions of traditional celebrations slated for all 15 days of the New Year or Spring Festival, plus more on traditional Chinese New Year foods, decorations, taboos and superstitions.
Chinese New Year - Wikipedia - Check out a wonderful overview of the history, symbols, customs & foods surrounding the 15-day festivities including information on traditional gifts, flowers, fireworks, good luck / bad luck superstitions, how Chinese New Year is celebrated around the world, plus lots of related links and resources.
Teacher Planet - Chinese New Year - This is a great collection of fun activities and instructional how to's including dragon crafts, paper lanterns & garlands, scavenger hunt
sheets, related lesson plans, plus links to clip art & history resources.
traditional New Year dinner for the imperial house was composed of 99 dishes since the number 9 is an auspicious number! Fish are a good luck food, but take care to serve the fish whole to preserve the good fortune.