Whether you celebrate Tết, Chinese New Year or a Lantern Festival, chances are that Friday, Feb. 16 was a special day full of celebration and cheer as the lunar calendar shifted into the Year of the Dog on a day known as the Lunar New Year.
These celebrations will often last for more than the specified day, and those celebrating will be wearing red clothing from head to toe. The festivities are also marked with fireworks and the exchange of red envelopes of money (also known as hong bao) from friends and loved ones.
The Year of the Dog only comes every 12 years with the cycle of the Chinese zodiac with each of the 12 animals linked to a year. The Year of the Dog happened in 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 and 2006.
However, though the Year of the Dog is infrequent, those born in a Year of the Dog are actually predicted to have bad luck this year according to superstition and should wear red more frequently to safeguard against this bad luck.
To celebrate the arrival of the Lunar New Year, you can wear red, visit your local temple to honor your ancestors, give friends and family red envelopes and act positively towards those around you.
Many cities and associations celebrated the oncoming of the new year, and celebrations continue through this weekend if you missed out.
Theme parks, too, will still be celebrating, with Universal Studios Hollywood and SeaWorld San Diego continuing their lunar new year celebrations until Feb. 25.
Many of these locations will also include dog-themed events, such as an “adorable Puppy Garden where you can watch puppies play and take photos, while learning about adopting animals from local shelters” in SeaWorld or a Kung Fu Panda themed event, “Minions in traditional Chinese attire and Mandarin-speaking Megatron from Transformers” at Universal Studios.
Other organizations that celebrated the Lunar New Year include the game Overwatch, which rang in the new year with new skins and a new map set in Thailand, as well as a live Puppy Rumble that sets numerous puppies against each other for some unknown reason.
If you won’t have time to participate in any of these celebrations, you can still celebrate by eating traditional food at local Asian restaurants, including dim sum, dumplings, roast pork or roast duck. While food made at home is often best, some of my recommendations for eating out include Din Tai Fung for traditional xiao long bao or Sam Woo for some dim sum during brunch.
If you really need something quick but want to stay traditional, Yum Cha Cafe is also an option for cheap dim sum that is not exactly at the same level as restaurant food, but makes up for it in speed and price.
The next lunar new year will arrive on Feb. 9, 2019, reining in the Year of the Pig.