Chinese New Year: The Year of the Dog by Anjeanette LeBoeuf


AnjeanetteFebruary has come and with it the celebration of the Chinese New Year. This year’s cycle is the Year of the Dog. The 15-day celebrations can range from parades, gift exchange, meals, and fireworks. Chinese New Year is a large global festival and celebration. It is one of the few celebrations that can cause mass migration as many travel to be with family. It signifies the new year. Multiple countries honor Chinese New Year as an official holiday while many more include Chinese New Year Festivals into their year’s celebrations. Chinese New Year is a very old festival.

1518701277_chinese-new-year-2018

One of the mythologies surrounding the Chinese New Year deals with a mythical creature that would take children. One year an old man decided to stand up to the Nian. The old man put up red paper and lit off fireworks. When the villagers came out of hiding they realized that the Nian was afraid of the color red and loud noises. From that day on, the Nian no longer terrorized the villagers. Throughout the centuries, the festival and celebration has evolved with family, luck, and new beginnings. Traditional you gather with your family to share a meal, the clean the house to sweep away the bad luck and invite good luck in for the upcoming year.

chinese new year

I love that imagery of sweeping out the old, getting rid of that which has mired the previous year, a way to physically remind us that each new year, each new day can bring new and positive things. That the bleakness, sorrow, and hurt of the yesteryear/day/week/month will ease. It seems especially relevant due to the constant bleakness that seems to follow all of the days in the last two years. There is also something very practical about having multiple days to celebrate the new year. It takes a while to take stock and discern what has come before, what you want for the current time, and what is hoped for the future. Taking stock of things is not just the resolutions of hitting the gym more, stop biting those nails, or taking more risks. It can also be taking stock of where one is in life, how things are functioning around you. These things are intrinsically linked to the human condition.

Chinese New Year helped to remind me about why have we celebrated new years for centuries across the globe? It also made me think common specific elements truly are. Whether you are celebrating the Chinese New Year, American New Year, Hindu New Year, or Rosh Hashanah there seems to be focus on renewal, getting rid of the bad, righting wrongs, prepping for the future.

It is so highly relevant as each night as I go to bed I take stock of the fallout from the day and each morning I awaken to see the damage that has occurred while I slept. In the last week, since I attended a Buddhist celebration of the Chinese New Year, each morning I have gone through every room and ‘swept’ out the bad energy and luck. I have also found that with this very slight change in activities I have found myself more and more encouraged despite the darkness that seems to blow in each day.

The Year of the dog brings up dependability, honesty, good nature, companionship. It can be a year that can be built upon loyalty. It is projected that the Year of the Dog can be highly successful both monetarily and in all forms of endeavors. The celebration of the Year of the Dog can be a reminder that each day has potential.

nian

迎春接福 Yíngchúnjiēfú – “Greet the New Year and encounter happiness”

福壽雙全 Fúshòushuāngquán – “May your happiness and longevity be complete”

 

Anjeanette LeBoeuf is a Ph.D Candidate in Women Studies in Religion at Claremont Graduate University. She is the Queer Advocate for the Western Region of the American Academy of Religion. She is currently a Lecturer of Asian Religions at Whittier College. She is a Wabash Teaching Fellow for Claremont McKenna College. Anjeanette also writes the for activist blog, Engaged Gaze. Her focuses are divided between South Asian religions and religion and popular culture. She has become focused on exploring the representations of women in all forms of popular culture and how religion plays into them. She is an avid supporter of both soccer and hockey. She is also a television and movie buff which probably takes way too much of her time, but she enjoys every minute of it. Anjeanette has had a love affair with books from a very young age and always finds time in her demanding academic career to crack open a new book.

 

 

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Categories: General, holiday

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8 replies

  1. Delightful, colorful, wonderful post, thanks so much Anjeanette.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything but a dragon in Chinese celebrations. To see this Chinese celebration of the new year with such a lovable dog — how wonderful. According to a comment online, it said: “Each Chinese year is given its name from the Chinese zodiac. The year of the Dog represents Luck, Romance, Personality.”

    I noticed we can also search online at Google for our own Chinese Zodiac animal — just type in — What is the Chinese zodiac sign for… (then the add the year you were born). I’m apparently a monkey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah,

      Thank you so much. The Dragon is highly depicted during the Chinese New Year celebration especially since the Nian is said to resemble that of the dragon. The animal that is associated with the new year is seen in small decorations around the area and banners. My guess is that because the dog is seen as extremely loveable – especially in the West- there was more importance placed on that imagery.

      Like

  2. I love dogs, and certainly happy to hear there is a time in the Chinese Zodiac to celebrate their great friendship and loyalty. Thanks so much too for the fascinating pictures in your post, Anjeanette, so warm and beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Every spiritual practice celebrates the new year… I love the imagery you present – the loyalty of the dog is laudable – but money? Well this disturbs me because in this country money is god – and “Money Talks” – if we didn’t know this before then our current leader mirrors its reality.

    Like

    • Sara,

      Success and prosperity seems to be something all new years’ celebrations strive for. I think with the current milieu that is controlled by corporations and money can cloud our views on what it means to be successful and prosperous. And yes sometimes that includes how much money we have access to.

      But you bring up a good point of how somethings are embedded in our systems which might not prove to be beneficial to us.

      Like

  4. I wanted to bring to your attention and hope that you would share with your audience the Year of the Dog Forever stamp at usps. com/stamps. An arrangement of lucky bamboo (Dracaena braunii) and a red, lozenge-shaped Lunar New Year decoration highlight the 2018 Year of the Dog stamp from the U.S. Postal Service®, 11th of 12 in the Celebrating Lunar New Year series.

    The Year of the Dog stamp is being issued as a Forever® stamp in self-adhesive souvenir sheets of 12. This Forever stamp will always be equal in value to the current First-Class Mail® one-ounce price.

    Liked by 1 person

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