All over the world, Chinese citizens celebrate the New Year, also called Chinese Spring Festival with family and friends. This year’s theme is called the Year of the Earth Dog. Bukola Ogunsina examines this festive celebration and its importance to China.
Chinese residents in Abuja recently marked the 2018 New Year/Spring festival. The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Zhou Pingjian addressed the guests wishing Chinese residents in Nigeria a happy Chinese New Year. During this occasion, two individuals became lucky winners, receiving return tickets to China, courtesy John Dragon Phoenix Travel Ltd, Managing Director, Zhantao Zhang. Amid the drama, songs and dance performances by Chinese and Nigerians alongside other entertainments, Zhantao said it was the company’s way of celebrating the New Year. The 2018 Chinese New Year falls a few days after Valentine’s Day which is on February 16th in festivities that will last for more than two weeks!
The New Year is said to fall usually on dates between January 21 and February 20 respectively, but sees as it is based on the lunar calendar it takes place on different dates depending on the year.The celebration involves family reunions, as each theme holds celebration with families as vital. “Nothing is important as family reunion,” a celebrant had mentioned. During this period Chinese families a day before the New Year have a reunion dinner, and clean their houses, sweeping away bad fortune to pave way for the New Year.
Kids would be presented with red envelopes containing ‘lucky money’ and positive wishes on New Year’s Day, which is sometimes done digitally. The Chinese calendar rotates in a 12-year cycle, representative of twelve animals and those born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are said to be known as Dogs. In a report, according to the Asian astrology, one’s year of birth – and the animal this represents – determines a lot about one’s character. Those born in the Earth Dog year will be communicative, serious and responsible in the work place.
Each of the twelve animals is represented every 12 years, however they all vary and it is said that 2018 will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958.In China, the Chinese animal zodiac or Shengxiao, as it is also called, translating to ‘born resembling’, are decided in a repeating cycle of 12 years. The animals change for each New Year and were also used to date the years.
The Rat are the years; 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, and 1960 respectively. The Ox falls on years; 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961. The Tiger; 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, The Rabbit; 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, the Dragon; 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, the Snake; 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, the Horse; 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, the Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, the Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, the Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969, the Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, the Pig: 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959.
The animals selected for each year are very vital and significant. The ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are six of the main domestic animals raised by Chinese people. The rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and monkey are all loved and doted on by the Chinese. Reports also state that the animals are separated into two categories – yin and yang – depending on whether they have an odd or even number of claws, toes or hooves.
There are also different elements that make up the year of the dog, ranging from Wood, Fire, earth, and gold. Celebrities like Madonna and Michael Jackson are said to be earth dogs because their birthdays Madonna falls on August 16, 1958 (Madonna) and August 29, 1958 (Jackson) respectively. However, , Donald Trump, June 14, 1946, Bill Clinton, born August 19, 1946 and George Bush Jnr July 6, 1946 are seen as fire dogs.
According to the website, https://www.chinesenewyears.info in the tales and legends, ‘the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the “Year”. The “Year” looks like an ox with a lion head and inhabits in the sea. At the night of New Year’s Eve, the “Year” will come out to harm people, animals, and properties. Later, people found that the “Year” fears the colour red, fire, and loud sounds. Therefore, for self-protection, people formed the habit of posting red Dui Lian in front of their house as well as launching fireworks, and hanging lanterns at year end.’
The story also notes that the precise beginning of the New Year celebration in China is vague, as it usually is reported to commence from the year end religious ceremony during the Shang Dynasty between 1766 BC and 1122 BC. It is also noted by a few that it started as early as Emperor Yao and Shun by the 2300 BC. At the beginning, the date of celebration was from mid-winter to early spring, and with the solar base calendar, Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty established the first day of the first month as the beginning of the year, where it remains.
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