New Year's Eve has come and gone, but for many parts of Asia, that celebration is just about to begin.
On Chinese New Year — which is on Feb. 5, 2019 — the Year of the Earth Dog will officially be over and the Year of the Earth Pig will begin. This date is determined by the new lunar calendar — hence why it's also called the Lunar New Year and why the date of the Chinese festival is always different.
If you're wondering why there's an animal and element used to represent the year, it's because these two components determine the dominant character traits of people born in any given year.
For example, Earth Dogs (those born between Feb. 16, 2018 and Feb. 4, 2019) are considered "communicative, serious, and responsible in work," while Earth Pigs (those born between Feb. 5, 2019 and Jan. 24, 2020) are considered "communicative, popular among their friends, with a strong sense of time keeping," according to China Highlights.
The animals of the Chinese zodiac rotate on a 12-year cycle, beginning with the Rat and ending with the Pig. These animals also rotate through the five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water — creating a 60-year cycle.
The animal and element of the year affects everyone, not just those who are born in that year. And, according to Hawaii-based astrologer Cathryn Moe, the Year of the Pig is expected to be a good one for many.
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"The year will be more comfortable and will allow people to indulge," Moe predicted to The Japan Times. "We have to pace ourselves (through life) and there hasn't been much opportunity to do that in the past few years as we've gone from one shock to the next. This year involves everyone taking responsibility for their well-being."
Chinese New Year celebrations are held across Asia, and involve lion dances to repel bad spirits and the giving of red packets to symbolize good fortune. And, of course, the festival is celebrated with specific foods, such as mandarins, dumplings, and lychee.
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