What is the Chinese New Year? Celebrating the Year of the Dog

In many western cultures, we take a single day to celebrate the rise of a new year. It’s widely known as a time to reflect on the wonderful moments of the past before then turning to the future with an aim to better ourselves and developing our dreams. I think it’s safe to say that among many cultures this mentality is at least a little similar. It often feels like the end of a chapter or, sometimes, the closing of a book. The main differences tend to be in how we celebrate.

We don’t know exactly when the Chinese New Year began. One article I read mentioned it’s believed the celebration began early as the time of the legendary sage emperors, Yao and Shun. It’s believed that Yao in particular, was one of the first to assign astrological officers to track the constellations and changes of the heavens in order to make a sun traditional paper cutand lunar calendar of 366 days in a year, including the leap month. Important, because the Chinese New Year doesn’t fall on the same calendar month like ours. It follows a lunar cycle; on the 23rd day of the 12th lunar month in the Chinese calendar. And, it’s a celebration that lasts for fifteen days and it’s a national holiday, meaning government offices, schools, and most companies are closed during the course of the celebration.

Many see it as a time to visit distant relatives. They wear new clothes, clean their homes, eat as much food as they can, and decorate with window paper cut outs – all in red. What fortunes you bring into the New Year depends on what symbols you decorate with. For instance, the lantern represents “pursuing the right and the beautiful,” while the fish means “having more than ones needs every year.” They also have firecrackers to cast off any bad luck and perform dragon and lion dances, something you probably saw pictures of on a number of occasions.

2018 marks the year of the earth dog, but what exactly does that mean? Most people know about the Chinese zodiac the same way I do, and that’s from what was on the paper placemats in Chinese restaurants when we were kids. That gives us a little info at least. We know that every animal has different personality traits. The dog, for instance, is known to be sincere, independent, and clever. (This is also the sign of Miss Ting, the owner of The Green Teahouse) Similar to the animals, every element has its own unique properties and influences on our chi, (or aura if you prefer.)  Earth is associated with growth, practicality, harmony, and hard work.Dragon Dance in Chinatown

These two combined can make 2018 a very auspicious year! Especially if you have any long-term project needing grit and dedication. The Earth element grounds the hard working enthusiasm of the dog. If there’s anything to watch out for, it would be taking care in where you spend your time and energy. The Dog tends to be very loyal and giving, but if we give too much this often leaves us without the energy to take care of ourselves.

The city Chengdu in Sichuan Provence is not only the home of our signature Snow Jasmine tea but the elegant owner of The Green Teahouse, Miss Ting. They celebrate with spicy hand-made sausages and a Paper Lantern Festival. In honor of her home and culture, we’ll be hosting a New Year celebration at the teahouse on February 17th from 1-5pm.

We won’t be able to set off firecrackers or cast paper lanterns into the sky, but we’ll have face painting, tea tasting with snacks, and a tai chi demonstration. There will also be a raffle with some great prizes! You can stop in, or call the store for details. I’ll leave a link to our homepage here.

For a bit of fun, leave a comment telling us what your zodiac animal is, and we’ll let you know what tea matches you best! Click here to get your horoscope.


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Stay healthy and drink lots of tea.

Melissa ~ Tea Barista

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