If you enjoy exploring different cultures, or just embrace any opportunity to throw a celebration, February is your chance! The Lunar New Year, an international holiday celebrated by Asian countries throughout the globe, falls on February 16 in 2018. The Lunar New Year has now become a popular tradition in many North American communities as well, with Lunar New Year’s eve (February 15) marking the night where much feasting will take place.
So what does the 2018 Lunar New Year bring?
Because the lunar calendar is calculated by a combination of lunar and solar counting systems, combined with the five elements (metal, water, wood, fire and earth), 12 animals are chosen (as is specifically seen in Chinese culture) to rank these sequences and count the years. For cultures which employ the lunar counting system (customarily Asian cultures), 2018 is defined as the Year of the Dog. What can we look forward to during the Year of the Dog? Well, this year also happens to be related to the element of earth which signifies and emphasizes stability, meditation and religion.
In the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac signs, the dog is the eleventh zodiac animal. This means that years of the dog include those born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042 and every twelve years going forward. If you are born in the Year of the Dog, it is said that your traits reflect independence, decisiveness, sincerity and loyalty, according to Chinese zodiac analyses. These characteristics allow you to face difficulties in daily life and promote harmonious relationships between you and others. While you are full of life, courageous, dutiful, valiant, loyal and clever, your weaknesses may be your stubbornness, your sensitivity, and your sometimes conservative views.
With dozens of North American cities curating activities in honor of the Lunar New Year, no matter where you are or what culture you subscribe to, you’ll be able to jump in and celebrate!
How do I celebrate?
The Lunar New Year is a celebration focused on family and other loved ones, feasting in abundance and welcoming a year of health, wealth, happiness and longevity. It is also a time to honor one’s ancestors and various deities. Some dishes considered lucky to have at Lunar New Year celebrations and their symbolisms include the following:
- Noodles, the longer the better – happiness and longevity
- Dumplings and spring rolls – wealth
- Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) – family togethterness
- Niangao (glutinous rice cakes) – higher income or status
- Tangerines and oranges – fullness and wealth
- Fish – an increase in prosperity
For roundups of recipes to make these dishes at home, check out Food and Wine and Food Network.
What colors should I use?
You may have noticed how prominent the color red is in Chinese art, decor and fashion. Red is associated with the element of fire, and symbolizes joy and good fortune. It is especially prevalent during all Chinese New Year celebrations. Red envelopes with money and messages in them are given as gifts. Legend says that the monster Nian would terrorize villages on the first day of each year, but he was frightened away by the color red, loud noises and fireworks, all of which are important parts of the New Year celebration. In Feng shui, red is the color of happiness, good fortune protection, strength and confidence. Revelers wear red on the eve of the new year celebration, as well as the day of.
Each zodiac sign and element has its own associated colors. The Year of the Dog in 2018 is associated with the earth element, so the principles of feng shui suggest wearing and using the water colors of blue and black, as well as the wood color of green to provide balance to the earth element. Use these colors to decorate the interior of your home to bring in more fortune in 2018 and use them in your office to make your business more successful in the Year of the Dog. Add accents of red, white, silver and gold to stabilize energy in your environment. For a dive into the complexities of feng shui and color balances for 2018, check out KarmaWeather.
Where can I celebrate the Lunar New Year?
If you’re lucky enough to live in or near a city with its own Chinatown, you’re sure to find parades, fireworks shows, lantern festivals and more. New York City, Chicago, Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Miami, Houston and other major cities have significant parades, festivals and other events on the calendar. If there’s no festival in your area, plan one! Whether you keep the festivities to just your family and loved ones or create an event for your entire community, this is a great opportunity for celebration!