The Year of the Dog Comes to the Rest of East Asia

Big Red Lantern by Yining Zhang

Da Hong Deng Long” (Big Red Lantern) by Yining Zhang

Blogs all around East and Southeast Asia have gone grey this past weekend as many, particularly those in the overseas Chinese community, celebrate the Lunar New Year. As part of Global Voices Online's continuing celebration of the arrival of the Year of the Dog, here's a quick sampling of celebratory posts around the Asian region, outside China, Vietnam and Malaysia:

Being Korean thoughtfully reminds us that although many people call the Lunar New Year just “Chinese New Year,” the holiday is also celebrated throughout Asia by non-Chinese. In Korea, the holiday focuses more on reverence of deceased ancestors on the paternal side. He writes: “lunar new year is a unique celebration here in korea and one that i feel is a shame that the legions of non-koreans living here have never had the chance to participate in or even simply witness.”

Kitjar Sukjaidee, a Thai of peranakan (Straits of Malacca-born) Chinese descent, describes on how her Thai-Chinese-Malay family celebrates the occasion, which extends over several days:

Accordingly, it is believed on the 24th night of the 12th Lunar Month, the Kitchen God ascends to Heaven to report the domestic happenings. This is the time for my family to ‘bribe’ the Kitchen God with sweet sticky stuff (thus the sweet chocolates) for him to report only ‘good stuff’ about the family. Of course, this is also a symbolic prayer for enough food on our dining table for the coming year.

The blog of a Sisaket Boy actually prefers Chinese New Year to Thai New Year because of the tradition of giving out little red envelopes, known as “ang bao,” filled with money, to young people. Many children around this time make out like bandits. Another account of Lunar New Year in Thailand can be found from Bangkok Mom. Also at, Richard Barrow has pictures of the celebration.

In Singapore, as in many other places in Asia, Lunar New Year is an extended holiday and thus an opportunity to go elsewhere for vacation, leaving the city-state a ghost town for the duration. Nakorius is miffed his family decided to go to Thailand the first time he's celebrated Lunar New Year in Singapore in over a decade. Chronicles of the Beast hates Lunar New Year because he is bored out of his skull. But Fauzi is happy for the peace and quiet. Meanwhile, Singaporean chlim01 is bored, who lives in Cambodia, thinks Lunar New Year will be too quiet. He is disappointed that firecrackers have been banned this Lunar New Year in Phnom Penh.

Jose Morales, a Filipino with some Chinese ancestry who is now living in San Diego, tells us that this Dog year is the Year of the Fire Dog:

Based on tradition, the Year of the Dog is the year for reflection and to assess ones values. In the face of disturbances, the fire dog is known to be always on the lookout, protecting the surroundings. Following this characteristic of the dog, the year is expected to see benevolent and idealistic deeds and various unusual changes coming into being. The Fire Dog speaks of a character that is dramatic, ferocious, alluring, motivated by strength of mind and self-confident.

Jakartass in Indonesia (born in a Year of the Dog himself) wishes his readers a happy Lunar New Year. He writes: “Remember that the Dog year and those under its influence are protectors of morals and defenders of the weak.”

Finally, Hiswords has a screenshot of the Lunar New Year celebration in the massively-multiplayer role-playing game World of Warcraft.


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