Lunar New Year 2018

Red Lanterns

Friday the 16th of February marks the start of the new Lunar or Chinese New Year. So what is this year all about.

What the Lunar New Year is

The lunar new year, often called the Chinese new year is the first day of a new year when the year is coordinated by moon activity. (That’s where the lunar part comes from since ‘lunar’ means ‘relating to the moon.’) A lot of cultures all around the world celebrate the lunar new year, which is why the term ‘Chinese new year’ isn’t completely accurate.

The Year of the Dog


The story

The lunar calendar runs on a 12-year cycle, and each of these 12 years has an allocated animal. (The order goes rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, then rat.) There’s even a story to go with the animals.

All the animals had the opportunity become a part of the calendar, but only the first 12 would be selected. The rat and the cat (yep the cat) were good friends. They agreed to go together early, but the cat often slept in. The rat promised to wake the cat up in time, but on the day they were too excited and nervous. They forgot all about their friend and raced off alone.

On the way the rat came across the other animals who were all a lot faster so the rat had an idea. They convinced the ox to carry them the rest of the way and in return they would sing throughout the journey. The fast ox arrived first but the rat managed to sneak in front, and is now the first animal in the zodiac. The cat eventually turned up but was too late (the cat is still mad and tries to attack the rat whenever they cross paths).


What it means to be born in the year of the dog

For those of you turning 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 71, 84, 96, or even 108 (congratulations, by the way) you’ll’ve been born in the year of the dog. This doesn’t mean you really like tennis. The lunar zodiac says that people born in the year of the dog are independent, sincere, and loyal. (A lot like dogs, really.)

The type of dog this year

It’s possible to go even more in-depth than just the animal. Each year also corresponds to an element (wood, fire, earth, metal, and water). 2018 is a year of the Earth dog. The Earth element corresponds to kindness and honesty throughout the entire year.

Celebrating the Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year in Paris

Lunar New Year in Paris

One of the greatest things about following the lunar or Chinese calendar as well as the Gregorian calendar (that’s the one we normally use) is that you get to celebrate new years’ twice! And what’s great about this lunar new year is that it starts on a Friday! Perfect for a celebratory weekend. Though the full holiday actually lasts for 15 days so there’s plenty of time to celebrate.

If you live in or near a city one of the most popular things to do for lunar new year is to head to your local China Town. Take in the dazzling lights (if they’re up) and eat some delicious food! If you live out of the city there’s no reason you can’t still celebrate. After all, if you stay in you get to watch the celebrations all around the world on the telly! Just like with the Georgian calendar, you can make a resolution or two for the new year for as a part of enjoying the event.

Paige Riddiford is a writer and editor from NSW with a degree in Creative Writing from the University of Wollongong. When not writing, Paige is often found reading, baking cakes, playing video games, or binging whatever's new on Netflix.