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It’s the Year of the Dog for this Chinese New Year — but why do we celebrate it?

Jacob Dirnhuber, February 11, 2018 6:55PM The Sun

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Richard Louey from the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo with Sun Loong, the longest Chinese dragon in Australia. Picture: Andrew Henshaw media_cameraRichard Louey from the Golden Dragon Museum in Bendigo with Sun Loong, the longest Chinese dragon in Australia. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

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Chinese New Year is one of the world’s most colourful events with celebrations all across the globe.

Unlike our festivities, which always take place at midnight between December 31 and January 1, Chinese New Year changes each year — here is your guide for learning all about the energy-filled celebrations.


It begins this year on Friday, February 16 and usually runs for about two weeks.

Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year, because it is based on the lunar calendar*.

New Year’s Day normally falls between January 21 and February 20.


The global celebrations are an explosion of light and sound, involving bell ringing, lighting firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances.

Chinese families gather together for a reunion dinner on New Year’s Eve, and clean their houses to sweep away bad luck on New Year’s Day.

Traditionally, children would be given red envelopes stuffed with “lucky money” and positive wishes on New Year’s Day.

Some teens now have red envelope apps, so their relatives can transfer cash digitally.

Chinese New Year is celebrating the Year of the Earth Dog. Picture: Jamie Hanson media_cameraChinese New Year is celebrating the Year of the Earth Dog. Picture: Jamie Hanson


2018 will be the Year of the Dog.

The Chinese zodiac moves in a 12-year cycle, and those born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are also known as Dogs.

According to the Asian astrology, your year of birth — and the animal this represents — determines a lot about your personality traits.

Although each of the 12 animals gets an outing every dozen years, there are different varieties — and 2018 will be the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958.

Anyone born in an Earth Dog year will be communicative, serious, and responsible in the workplace.


Find the year you were born and you will find your Chinese animal.

Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

Goat: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

Dog: 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958

Pig: 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959

A man hangs a wish ribbon at a lantern show in preparation for the Chinese New Year. Picture: Getty Images media_cameraA man hangs a wish ribbon at a lantern show in preparation for the Chinese New Year. Picture: Getty Images


The choice of animals has special meaning to the Chinese — the ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, and dog are six of the main domestic animals raised by Chinese people.

While the rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and monkey are all loved by the Chinese.

The animals were separated into two categories — yin and yang* — depending on whether they have an odd or even number of claws, toes or hooves.

They were then arranged into a pattern of yin then yang and so on.





Legend has it that, back in the ancient* days, the Jade Emperor ordered that animals would become part of the calendar — and that the 12 who arrived first would be selected.

At the time, the cat and the rat were good friends. When they heard the news, the cat said to the rat: “We should arrive early to sign up, but I usually get up late.”

The rat promised to wake his pal up so they could go together but, because he was so excited, he forgot and went alone.

On the way, the rat bumped into the tiger, ox, horse and other animals — who were all much faster than him.

He hatched a plan and convinced the ox to carry him on his back on the condition that the rat sang throughout the journey.

The ox arrived first, but the rat sneaked in front of him and became the first lucky animal.

By the time the cat arrived, the selection was over — which is why the cat hates the rat and will always try to chase and kill him.


lunar calendar: a calendar based on the cycles of the moon

yin and yang: female and male principles of the universe

ancient: belonging to a long, long time ago,





1. Read or listen to the article carefully and complete the following activities.

Make a list of facts about Chinese New Year that are mentioned in the article. Use this list to create a Fact File titled, ‘Chinese New Year’. Include the following information in your Fact File — Who, what, where, when, how and why it is celebrated. You may need to do some further research to help you complete your fact file. Include some pictures on your file.

Extension: Chinese New Year is often celebrated with Lion and Dragon dances. Choose one of these to research further. Find out its significance to Chinese New year and what it represents. Draw your own version of a Chinese Dragon or Lion head. Make sure you make it vibrant and colourful.

Time: Allow 40 minutes.

Curriculum links: English, The Arts- Visual Arts, Humanities – History, Intercultural Capabilities

2. Lantern Festival.
As mentioned in the article, Chinese New Year festivities go for a few weeks. The last day is celebrated with a ‘Lantern festival’. Use the internet or your school library to find out how to make Chinese Lanterns. Use coloured card to make some lanterns to decorate your classroom.

Extension: There are many ways that Chinese New Year is celebrated. Which aspect of Chinese New Year sounds the most exciting to you? Which would you most like to be involved in and why?

If you already celebrate Chinese New Year – which part do you like celebrating the most and why? Write a paragraph explaining what you would most like to be involved in. Include reasons for your choice.

Time: Allow 40 minutes.
Curriculum links: English, The Arts – Visual Arts, Humanities – History, Intercultural Capabilities

Time: 40 mins

Extra Resources: Cover paper or Card in various colours, access to internet or books on Chinese New Year, scissors, glue/tape


Find a basic boring sentence in the article. What makes it boring?

Use your VCOP skills to up level it. Then highlight all the VCOP you used.

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write & VCOP


Please avoid one-word answers. Tell us exactly what you like about the story.

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