Chinese New Years

When it is, why it isn’t in January and more about the Year of the Dog

For millions of people across the globe, Dec. 31 and Jan. 1 aren’t the only days where a new year is celebrated.

Chinese New Year is coming, so expect to see lots of firecrackers as people ring in the Year of the Dog in style.

Here’s a brief primer on the holiday, including the date, history and greetings of Chinese New Year. Read on to learn more about the Year of the Dog, including the personality traits of those born in that year (and who some famous dogs are).

What date is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year is on Feb. 16 this year.

Why does Chinese New Year have a different date every year?

It’s based on when there is a new moon (when the moon looks invisible) between late January and late February.

What is the history behind Chinese New Year?

Legend has it that a terrible demon named Nian (or Year) who used to come up once a year from its home in the sea to feast on the crops, livestock and people of a small village. That day was always the end of the lunar year.

Knowing that Nian was coming, the people of the village would flee into the mountains to avoid being eaten. It was a cycle that continued for years, the people would flee, Nian would come and destroy everything, and the people would return.

That all changed with a wise old man came into the village. He refused to hide in the mountains with the other villagers. Instead, he scared Nian by putting red paper on the doors of the homes, burning bamboo to make a loud crackling sound and using bright lights.

Nian was terrified of the old man, the light, the color red and the noises and so the monster fled and the village was saved. From then on out, when Nian was supposed to make his yearly pilgrimage to destroy the village, the people would put red paper on their doors, set off fireworks and light candles to scare Nian away.

The legend ties into the name itself. Chinese New Year’s Day is referred to as “Guo Nian” which means “overcome Nian.”

What are the traits of people born in the Year of the Dog?

Dogs are noted to be fiercely loyal friends and are known for their honesty. They’re friendly, smart and have a strong sense of responsibility. On the downside, those born in the Year of the Dog tend to be stubborn, sensitive and emotional.

They are compatible with those born in the Year of the Tiger and Rabbit (or Cat if you follow the Vietnamese zodiac). They don’t get along with those born in the year of the Dragon, Sheep or Rooster.

 Who are some famous people born in the Year of the Dog?

Many recent United States presidents are dogs, including current President Donald Trump as well as past presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Other notable dogs include British actress Maggie Smith, zoologist Jane Goodall, actor Sylvester Stallone, singer Michael Jackson, popstar Madonna, TV host Ellen DeGeneres, singer Mariah Carey, actress Taraji P. Henson, rapper Lil’ Wayne, actor Seth Rogen and singer Harry Styles. Also, Justin Bieber.

How do I say “Happy New Year” in Chinese?

In Mandarin, “Happy New Year” is “Xin Nian Kuai Le.” In Cantonese, it’s “Sun Leen Fai Lok.”

A popular phrase during New Year is “Gong Xi Fai Cai” (Mandarin) or “Gong Hey Fat Choy” (Cantonese), which translate to “Wishing you great happiness and prosperity.”

What kind of food do people eat on Chinese New Year?

According to The Independent, the top Chinese New Year lucky foods are noodles (which symbolize happiness and longevity), dumplings and spring wells (which symbolize wealth), sweet rice balls aka Tangyuan (which symbolize family togetherness), glutinous rice cakes aka Niangao (which symbolize higher income or status), tangerines and oranges (which symbolize fullness and wealth) and fish (which symbolizes prosperity).

What do people wear for Chinese New Year?

Red is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture, so expect to see lots of that. Also, red is the color that terrifies Nian.