Welcome to the Year of the Dog! The eleventh animal in the zodiac cycle. Those born in the Year of the Dog are said to be loyal, clever, sincere and courageous.
When celebrating the arrival of the Year of the Dog, certain things should be taken into consideration – the most important being what to eat and drink, and what to bring to the party.
The 2018 Lunar New Year kicks off on February 16 and celebrations will last for around two weeks. It’s a special time for families to come together and welcome in a fresh start.
In the lead up to the New Year, people undertake ‘sweeping the dust’ which is when they clean their homes to say goodbye to the past year and welcome in the new. On New Year’s Eve, decorations are put up, such as red lanterns and couplets – written phrases expressing best wishes – and families get together for a reunion dinner. Families also pay their respects to their ancestors with sacrifices and prayer.
Similar to other New Year celebrations, people stay up to see fireworks and firecrackers go off at midnight, but in Chinese culture it is to ‘keep watch’ as the New Year arrives. Loud firecrackers, like the bell-ringing, help ‘ring in’ the New Year – the bigger and louder they are, the luckier people’s business will be in the coming year. New Year’s Day is the time for lion and dragon dances to scare away demons and bring prosperity. The following days are for visiting family, while the 15th and last day is the Lantern Festival where floating lanterns light up the skies and waterways.
But back to the reunion dinner, there are many tasty dishes served for their auspicious qualities, which you can make at home. Dumplings symbolise wealth because their shape resembles ancient Chinese ingots. Make your own dumplings and match them with the freshness of a Tsingtao beer. It’s the perfect pairing, especially because the bottle is green, which is a lucky colour for the Year of the Dog.
Another favourite dish is sticky rice cakes. Its Chinese name ‘niangao’, which translates to ‘year cake’, is a homonym for ‘higher year’ and is associated with self-improvement. Sticky rice cakes are a great way to finish off a meal, and we recommend having them with another bookend drink – whisky. Single malts are emerging as the next big thing in China, so we recommend sipping on some Chivas Regal 18yo.
For longevity, long noodles are also on the menu. The longer the noodles, the longer a person’s lifespan. In this recipe for steamed fish, salted soy beans and glass noodles, you can combine the symbol of longevity with a symbol of abundance – a whole fish! For this dish, a white wine would go down a treat. Double down on the symbolism with a bottle of Dog Point Sauvignon Blanc.
If that’s a bit out of your price range, there are few other options open to you. It feels somewhat auspicious to give someone some beers from the Moon Dog range for 2018. After all, if a dog happens to come to a house in Chinese culture, it is a symbol of coming fortune. A few more options for beer lovers are 3 Pub Circus, Heineken 3 or 4 Pines, as the lucky numbers for the Year of the Dog are three, four and nine.
The lucky colours for the year are green, red and purple, so for wine drinkers, Penfolds Bin 8 may be the go – the number eight is considered the luckiest number in Chinese culture.