Chinese New Year 2018: Why is it year of the dog and what does it mean?

Happy Chinese New Year 2018! The annual event marks one of the most colourful and lively celebrations, with festivals held in most major cities across the world. Chinese New Year brings with it vibrant parades and colourful celebrations, but what is Chinese New Year? When is it celebrated and what does it mean?

Chinese New Year has become a global celebration. Not only is it celebrated by the country of China and those with Chinese ancestry, it’s celebrated by people from across the world, of all different cultures and religions. Some 3 billion trips are expected to be taken during the Chinese New Year, so travellers should be prepared for delays and security risks no matter where they’re heading.

Here is everything you need to know about the Chinese holiday known as Spring Festival.


How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

 Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, is a seven-day celebration of good fortune, happiness, and prosperity. Preparation includes freeing homes of misfortune through thorough cleaning and sweeping and also extends to personal grooming practices, with many people getting their hair cut until the eleventh hour.

Chinese New Year begins with a reunion dinner and ends with the Lantern Festival. During the reunion dinner, whole families get together at home or a restaurant to eat dumplings and noodles, among other fine foods. Children are also traditionally given red envelopes with ‘lucky money’ and positive wishes.


When is Chinese New Year 2018?

 Unlike Canadian New Year festivities, which always take place between December 31 and January 1, Chinese New Year varies each year. The Chinese calendar is based on the lunar calendar, which is when there is the start of a new moon. This means Chinese New Year falls on a different date each year, but it is always sometime between January 21 and February 20. Celebrations in 2018 start today (Friday, February 16) and will last for over two weeks.


The Year of the dog

In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of twelve animals which feature in the Chinese zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog or pig. The animals each have a year dedicated to them once in every 12-year cycle.

This year will be year of the dog. People born in 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970 and 1958 are all ‘dogs’. Within the dog sign, there are five different types of dog a person could be, each coming along once in a 60-year cycle. Your year of birth, according to Asian astrology, and the animal it represents determines a lot about a person’s personality traits.

This year’s dog is the ‘Earth Dog’, which last appeared in 1958. Earth dogs are said to be communicative, serious and responsible in work. People born under the sign of the dog are said to share the common traits of the dog, those being loyal, friendly and kind. Men born in the dog year are said to be straightforward, energetic and genuine, while women are said to be cautious, genial and independent.


Chinese New Year in Toronto

In anticipation for the celebration, we hit the streets of Toronto’s Chinatown to get the lowdown. After stopping in to a few places, we can definitely say that family and food are the focal point of this holiday of luck.

Henry of Henry’s Salon was quick to point out the differences between Chinese New Year in China and Chinese New Year in Canada, as well as their contrast to Canadian New Year. As Henry said, “In China, we ate chicken for Chinese New Year, but in Canada, lobster. Not fried, of course, for the sake of good health.” He also noted that Chinese New Year is mainly connected to older generations, whereas second and third generations often celebrate Canadian New Year with turkey. Word on the street is that Peking duck is also a strong favourite.

Whether you are travelling to China for the celebrations or visiting one of the many festivals across Canada, Chinese New Year can be busy and hectic. Be safe in the throng of people and check out our travel insurance options.

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