Happy New Year, Again!

Welcome The Earth Dog This Lunar New Year!

It’s Lunar New Year on Friday, February 16. If last year was a bit too much for you, being the Year of the Fire Rooster (imagine a blustery, fiery rooster stomping around, pecking and crowing like mad), you are hopefully in for a return to sanity with the Year of the Earth Dog. In case you’ve never been to a Chinese fast food restaurant and found your animal year in the placemats, Chinese astrology basically designates for each year one of 12 animals, in a continuing cycle. Chinese astrology can be quite complex and involve intricate computations. But basically, each animal has certain traits, for example the Dragon Year is very intense, with extremes of both good and bad, in all spheres of life: politics, the stock market, the weather, people’s attitudes, fashion, etc. Dragon people are strong, independent, brilliant, energetic, ambitious, and do not trifle with fools. The animals alternate between masculine and feminine, with the masculine ones bearing traditional male qualities of exploration, worldliness, ambition, while the feminine animals are more home-oriented, peaceful, artistic, sensitive. The Dog, being a social animal is probably one of the most popular signs. The year—and the people born in it— embodies qualities of loyalty, sociability, competitiveness, and determination. What makes it an earth year is another cycle happening simultaneously with the 12 animals. There are 5 elements that each last 2 years, so they repeat every 10 years. Each two years cycle between five elements: two years of Metal, followed by two more years of Water, then Wood, Fire, and Earth. Earth is considered the final element and is a synthesis of all the previous elements. Think of planet Earth—it contains all the elements: metals, plant life, water, and heat (coming from the sun, thermal energy, volcanoes, lightning). It is similar to the qualities of western astrology’s earth signs (Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn): nature-loving, practical, hard-working, artistic, detail-oriented, down-to-earth, nurturing, foundational.

Even Lunar New Year foods symbolize the good things in life, mainly health, love and material security. Noodles represent happiness and longevity since they’re a comfort food that gives energy and they are long; Dumplings and spring rolls are purses full of “cabbage,” bringing wealth; Tangyuan (sweet rice balls) are a multitude of grains for the sweetness of a big family gathering; Niangao is a rich rice cake bringing higher income or status; tangerines and oranges are for fullness and wealth; and shimmering fish increase prosperity (kind of like how goldfish are popular feng shui bringers of prosperity).

How to prepare for a fortunate year ahead, Asian style: in general, get your affairs in order beforehand, patch up any ill-will if possible; you don’t want to spend the whole year ahead paying bills, worrying, and cleaning. Usher in the first moments right: no cleaning or any form of drudgery, have a fully stocked fridge, a clean sink etc., your bills paid up, and maybe have a nice gathering of loved ones. Set the tone for a happy year ahead. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Now get ready to celebrate the Lunar New Year! Wear lucky red clothes and attend a parade, easy to find in our borough, with fireworks, and lion dancers to help banish bad luck with loud noise and fierceness. Then go enjoy auspicious and delicious Asian holiday foods with your loved ones.—Annette Hanze

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