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January 24, 2006 > 4704-Year of the Dog

4704-Year of the Dog

by Linda Stone

Chinese New Year is celebrated using the oldest calendar in use. This year, Jan. 29 marks the beginning of the Chinese lunar calendar year 4704.

According to ancient Chinese folklore, at the beginning of time, 12 animals entered a cross-country race. The rat won, followed by the ox, tiger, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and finally the pig. These 12 animals form the Chinese Zodiac. Each year belongs to one of the animals. 2006 is the year of the dog.

The celebration begins with the new moon and ends on a full moon, 15 days later. Like the Western calendar, the lunar calendar is yearly, but the lunar year is based on cycles of the moon causing the first day of the New Year to vary, falling sometime between late January and the middle of February.

Chinese New Year preparations begin months prior to the actual holiday as people clean their homes to eradicate any traces of ill fortune. Doors and window sills are given a fresh coat of paint, usually red, a color to ward off evil spirits. Then windows and doors are decorated with chun lian, a colorful calligraphy featuring themes of happiness and longevity.

Food such as dumplings, prawns and raw fish salad is served on New Year's Day to bring good luck and prosperity. The custom of Hong Bao or Red Packet is observed when married couples give away money in a red envelope to children and unmarried adults.

During the 15-day celebration, several customs are observed. On the first day, to ensure a long and happy life, meat is avoided. Day two involves praying to ancestors and gods; day three and four is when men visit in-laws. On day five, people stay at home to welcome the god of wealth and from the sixth to the 13h day, everyone visits friends and relatives and pray for good fortune and health and enjoying food. The 14th day is spent in preparation of the lantern festival culminating in the end of the new year on the night of the 15th day.

Use the Chinese lunar calendar below to find out what your birth year represents:

Rat: 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996
Rats are imaginative, charming and very generous to those they love. However, they also can be quick-tempered and overcritical.
Ox: 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997
Oxen are born leaders, methodical and good with their hands. They make fine surgeons and hairdressers.
Tiger: 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998
Tigers are said to be bold and adventurous. They have a tendency to be risk takers, and make good bosses, explorers or race-car drivers.
Rabbit: 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999
Rabbits are affectionate, cooperative and pleasant, with lots of friends. But they can get too sentimental and seem superficial. Ideal careers include law, diplomacy or the stage.
Dragon: 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000
Dragons tend to be popular and full of life. They make good priests, artists and politicians.
Snake: 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001
Romantic and deep-thinking, wise and charming, snakes can also tend to dismiss others too quickly. Ideal jobs include teaching or psychiatry.
Horse: 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002
Horses are hardworking and independent, but can be a bit selfish. They would do well as scientists or poets.
Sheep: 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003
Sheep are said to be charming, elegant and artistic, but they have a tendency to complain. Ideal jobs include actors, gardeners and beachcombers.
Monkey: 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004
Monkeys are intelligent and well-liked and have success in any field.
Rooster: 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
Roosters are decisive, hardworking and unafraid to speak their minds -- which can sometimes come across as boastful. They make good restaurant owners and world travelers.
Dog: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006
Dogs are honest and faithful. They make ideal secret agents or business people.
Boar: 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007
Boars are honest and tolerant and make good friends. They thrive in the arts as entertainers.

Chinese New Year celebrations around the Tri-City area include:

Chinese New Year 2006, The Year of the Dog
Thursday, February 2
11:30 a.m.
The Senior Center will be celebrating with a special Chinese Lunch and entertainment with a showing of a new local video, "By Light of Lanterns: An Untold History of Monterey's Chinese Fisherman" to celebrate local history in the Chinese New Year.
Fremont Senior Center
40086 Paseo Padre Pkwy., Fremont
(510) 790-6600

Chinese New Year Celebration
Sunday, Feb. 5
2 p.m.
Come bring the family and ring in the year of the rooster with a fantastic concert featuring music of the east and west! Featuring the Firebird Youth Chinese Orchestra.
Smith Center - Ohlone College
43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont
(510) 794-1659

Year of the Dog- Chinese New Year the Traditional Way
Sunday, Feb. 5
5 p.m.
A 10 course meal, theme cake and candy, wine bar, lucky pockets, entertainment, raffle, and drawings. Proceeds benefit Coaniuqem Burned Children Foundation, SAVE, SMA Research and Treatment and the Rotary Foundation. Sponsored by the F.U.N. Sunset Rotary Club Tickets are $38 per person, $350 for a table of 10.
Mayflower Restaurant
34348 Alvarado Niles Rd., Union City
(510) 489-8386
China Chili Chinese New Year Celebration

Saturdays, Feb. 11 & 25
5 p.m.
A special dinner, Lion Dance and martial arts demonstration. Lions will wind their way through the dining room, so don't forget to bring a token payment to show your appreciation. This tradition is fun for the whole family and quickly sells out, so make reservations early.
China Chili
39116 State Street, Fremont
(510) 791-1688

Chinese New Year Celebration featuring Red Panda Acrobats
Friday, February 17
10:45 a.m. - Noon
The Red Pandas travel regularly throughout the United States, Asia and Europe sharing their talents of exceptional acrobatic skills, traditional Chinese music, colorful costumes and a fast paced show that will amaze you. Free event.
Newark Community Center
35501 Cedar Blvd., Newark
(510) 742-4437

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