Welcoming the Chinese Year of the Earth Dog

Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right ~ Oprah Winfrey

 As we look back on the first month of 2018 – and only vaguely recall the resolutions for the year – it’s comforting to know that we can re-up for Chinese New Year, beginning this year on February 16.   It’s time now to plan ahead with an understanding that it’s the Year of the Earth Dog – and all that means.

According to one source, emphasis during the Year of the Earth Dog, repeated only once every 60 years on the Chinese calendar, is on “a new interpretation of our human condition…. Strength of character, education, morality, social life, health and caring for our elders are all fundamental questions to be revised and improved during the pivotal period.  The emergence of new authors and philosophers as much as the reissue of forgotten texts by great classical writers and poets, should wake up and feed the collective awareness.”

As I understand it, there are five types of Dog.  In Chinese element theory, each zodiac sign is associated with one of the five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth.  The Earth Dog celebrated this year is “communicative, serious and responsible in work.” This means that this year on the Chinese calendar can be a sensitive period during which activists and students as well as ordinary citizens may feel deprived of hope and socially excluded; as a result, they “won’t hesitate to demand radical changes in their life conditions and to preserve the future of their children.”

These are no doubt the most optimistic of several interpretations.  Another very different interpretation suggests that the focus will be on “real estate, agriculture, environment, territory integrity or religious, spiritual” events…

If all of this is too much to calculate, it might work to focus on the superstitions.  For example, doing any of the following tasks on February 16 will lead to bad luck for the Year of the Earth Dog.  It won’t be easy, but try to avoid cleaning clothes, using scissors and sweeping floors – though tending to the needs of crying children and/or women leaving the house all day may be more challenging superstitions.

Horoscopes of any persuasion are far beyond my ken – and yet it’s great fun, sometimes instructive, to explore the philosophy and traditions that guide the Chinese calendar.  It’s also comforting to hope that prognosticators are on target when they predict that, during the year of the Earth Dog,

Many voices around the world [will] rise to highlight the importance of universal values of dialogue and solidarity, which are characteristic values of the Chinese zodiac sign of the Dog.  Selfishness, greed and ignorance being a major source of inequalities on Earth, only a social and cultural impulse, at the individual collective level, can give a new hope to the millions of people in the world who are still suffering from neglect, indifference and the rejection from their community.

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