SANTIAGO – Chinese community in the Chilean capital welcomed the start of the Lunar New Year on Friday with a parade through the Meiggs district.
February 16 was Chinese New Year and marked the start of the Year of the Dog – one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. Unlike Western astrology, each sign lasts for a whole year and each year takes the name of an animal whose characteristics color and influence everything that happens for the next 12 months.
This is the Year Of The Dog, signaling a fortunate 12 months ahead for most of those born in the ‘dog’ years of 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018. It also influences the fortunes of the other 11 animal signs, depending on their relationship with the dog. There are 12 animals in the zodiac – the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.
Santiago Mayor Felipe Alessandri attended the celebration along with the Chinese ambassador to Chile, Xu Bu, and the president of the China-Chile Cultural and Arts Center, Juan Carlos Ramirez.
San Alfonso Street, lined with hundreds of businesses whose signs mix Spanish with Mandarin, was the venue for the festivities to mark the start of Lunar Year 4716.
A sudden beating of drums gave way to performers clad in traditional Chinese costumes, heralding the real protagonists: a host of paper dragons and lions.
The purpose of the lion and dragon dances is to banish evil spirits and bad vibrations from homes and businesses at the start of the New Year.
The procession made its way to Mall Parma, where Alessandri and Xu were greeted with a performance of music and dance.
Year of the Dog
Unlike the Roman calendar, the lunar new year changes, although it usually falls between January 21 and February 20. This means that those born in the early part of the calendar year are actually assigned the Chinese zodiac of the previous year.
On the night before the first day of the Lunar New Year (New Year’s Eve), Chinese families gather together for a big reunion dinner. It’s also common for families to clean their homes together, to make sure they’re sweeping away any bad fortune at the start of the new year. You can also expect parades with lots bell ringing and firecrackers.
As for the kids? Families gift little ones red envelopes filled with “lucky money,” which represent good wishes for the new year.
2018 is the Year of the Dog. What does that mean? The Chinese Zodiac moves in twelve year cycles, and the animal sign you’re born under says a lot about your personality, according to Chinese astrology. A dog’s most defining quality is his loyalty – he will never abandon their loved ones.
“Honest and just, [Dogs] are popular in social circles. Everyone needs a Dog friend for advice and help. They are also good at helping others find and fix their bad habits,” according to experts
Though it is sometimes referred to as the Chinese New Year, the holiday is actually celebrated by many Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, Korea, and Laos.
The Lunar New Year doesn’t fall on the same day each year, instead it follows a lunar calendar. The first day starts off a weeklong celebration with cash gifts, firecrackers, food and dancing.
The animals of the Chinese zodiac are used in many East Asian countries to represent the new year. The legend of the zodiac varies but most involve some version of the animals racing to a heavenly gate, with the results of the race revealing their status in heaven’s guard, their order of appearance on the calendar and personality traits of people born in their years.-Agencies