14/02/2018 16:28 GMT | Updated 16/02/2018 10:54 GMT

What's The Meaning Of Chinese New Year's Year Of The Dog?

What zodiac animal are you?

Friday heralds the start of a brand new lunar year in the Chinese calendar. It is the longest and most important of the traditional Chinese holidays, with celebrations usually spanning 15 days.

Twelve animals make up the traditional Chinese zodiac with each year having its own unique beliefs, specific to certain life events such as being an auspicious time to give birth or to open a new business.

Believers also see the universe as made up of five elements – earth, water, fire, wood and metal – all of which are associated with a zodiac sign. This is the year of the earth dog, which last occurred in 1958.  

Year of the dog 

As is typical to the canine nature, people born in the year of the dog are said to be characterised by their loyalty, though they sometimes struggle to communicate, at times giving the mistaken impression they are stubborn. 

Tyrone Siu / Reuters
2018 is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese calendar 

If you were born in the year of the dog honesty, kindness and caution are also positive attributes as are resilience to coughs, colds and fever, according to China Highlights. 

Careers best suited to dogs include counsellor, designer, professor, politician, nurse, priest and judge. Unfortunately for dogs however, 2018 is forecast to be an unlucky year, one which offends Tai Sui, the God of Age in Chinese mythology. Thankfully these astrologers have some tips on how to turn your bad fortune around. 


Chinese cities and communities will ring with firecrackers and fireworks during the festival, which are believed to scare off evil spirits and attract the God of Wealth to people’s doorsteps.

Parents and grandparents give red envelopes stuffed with cash to children, sometimes hiding them under pillows on Chinese New Year’s Eve to ward off evil and bad luck.

Damir Sagolj / Reuters
A woman being photographed at Beijing's Longtan Park at the start of Chinese New Year in 2016

However, there are taboos too. Washing your hair signifies washing away good luck, while crying on New Year’s Day means you will cry for the rest of the year.

The word “four” is avoided, as it sounds like the word “death” and denominations of the number eight are best because “eight” sounds like the expression “to get wealthy.” Using knives or scissors may “cut off” good fortune.

Aly Song / Reuters
Lantern decorations for Chinese New Year in Yu Yuan Garden, in Shanghai 

Tradition even applies to the types of food eaten. Northern Chinese eat dumplings, which symbolise wealth because their shape resembles old fashioned Chinese gold and silver ingots. Meanwhile fish is a popular dish as the word “fish” has the same pronunciation as the word for “abundance”.

Households tend to carry out a full clean ahead of the new year to clear away old and bad things from the previous year and welcome the new one in with a fresh slate. But woe betide those who clean on New Year’s Day, for you will be sweeping away good fortune in the year ahead!  

Which zodiac animal am I?

Goat/ Sheep

1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027

Grace Liang / Reuters

People born in the year of the goat are associated with kindness, caring and politeness. They love art and they have a tenderness about them. They can also be shy and sensitive. 


1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028

Grace Liang / Reuters

Intelligence and wit are but two characteristics of people born in the year of the monkey. They learn quickly. They’re mischievous jokesters who love to play pranks. They don’t mean to hurt anyone, but sometimes their pranks can cause harm. 


1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1982, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029

Grace Liang / Reuters

 Independent. Honest. Punctual. These three traits can be present in those born in the year of the rooster. They’re also confident and competent. But emotionally they can be volatile, and they can’t always get along with people socially. 


1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030

Grace Liang / Reuters

You’re honest and loyal, just like the family pet. You’re helpful, and you have integrity. But you’re not good at communicating, and sometimes that comes off as stubbornness. 


1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

Grace Liang / Reuters

Pigs are good friends, but only when you come to know them. Thus, they don’t have a lot of friends. They’re also known to be lazy and clumsy. Like the monkey, they’ll play pranks on people and not know when to stop. They can also be naive, and get themselves into trouble. 


1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020, 2032

Grace Liang / Reuters

The rat is adaptable and resourceful. It has good intuition, strong imagination and a deep curiosity. They’ll try new things and do well at them. But they don’t have much courage, so they don’t make great leaders. They’re generally kind, but they can also be impolite. 


1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033

Grace Liang / Reuters

Oxen are deeply devoted to their work, and they think carefully before acting. They’re moral creatures who know right from wrong. But like dogs, they’re also not known for good communication skills, and a boss may not realise how good oxen are at what they do. 


1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022, 2034

Grace Liang / Reuters

Like a predator chasing its prey, the tiger is known to be courageous and unpredictable. They’re stubborn, expressive and they perform tasks in a “high-handed manner.” Their decisions are firm, and they don’t waver. 


1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023, 2035

Grace Liang / Reuters

Impulsive, yet lovable. That’s the rabbit. They possess compassion, modesty and mercy. The graceful Chinese moon goddess Chang’eis said to have taken a rabbit as a pet because of the love it had inside it. Sadly, they’re not much for meditation, and they tend to put their own careers in jeopardy. They cannot handle dullness, so they’re dreamers who will find ways to make life more exciting.


1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024, 2036

Grace Liang / Reuters

You’re smart, confident and witty. But you’re also dominant, and you have a bad temper. When angry, you buck any criticism. You are powerful, and yet you lack self-awareness. 


1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025, 2037

Grace Liang / Reuters

 Intelligence, intuition and wisdom. They are private, yet also ambitious. They can’t stand failure. They don’t say much, but when they do, they say it well. With strong powers of thought, a snake might make a great philosopher. 


1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026, 2038

Grace Liang / Reuters

Horses crave the spotlight. They’re popular, hard-working and they like to improve themselves. But they don’t always listen very well. Financially, they’re reckless: they’re not much for budgeting. They hate limitations.

Famous ‘dogs’

PA Archive/PA Images
Winston Churchill - born 30 November 1874
Tim Graham via Getty Images
Mother Teresa - born 26 August 1910 
Sunset Boulevard via Getty Images
Elvis Presley - born 8 January 1935 
Reuters Photographer / Reuters
Bill Clinton - born 19 August 1946
PA Archive/PA Images
Madonna - born 16 August 1958  
Kimimasa Mayama / Reuters
Michael Jackson - born 29 August 1958 
Alex Wong via Getty Images
Donald Trump - born 14 June 1946