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Have a happy and healthy Year of the Dog

Victoria Hanlon - Swisse Author
February 14, 2018

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2018 is about to enter the Year of the Dog in the Lunar Calendar. With New Year celebrations taking place this weekend, it’s a time for celebration, family, friends, food and gifting lucky money in red pockets.

Celebration time

The lunar festival covers a period of 15 days, with this year’s New Year officially being welcomed in on Friday 16 January. There are many customs associated with the Lunar New Year, which vary greatly across the different regions of China. Typically, they involve enjoying special meals with family, cleaning the house prior to new year (to sweep away ill-fortune) and not cleaning the house or washing your hair at the beginning of the festival, to keep hold of your good luck.

For many, it’s a time to visit the temple to light incense and set off firecrackers to signify joy. Typically, people dress in new clothes (to signify the New Year), often wearing red, as this is a lucky colour in Chinese culture. The younger generation will be gifted with “red pockets” containing lucky money.

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Eating together

  • Enjoying meals with family and friends is a very important part of the Lunar New Year, with certain foods carrying a lot of significance. It can be easy to overindulge, so here are some tips from Swisse Dietitian, Simone Austin, on how to make your celebratory food healthy and happy.
  • Eating a whole fish is very customary for the Lunar New Year, as the word fish sounds like the word ‘surplus’, and it is good to have a surplus at the end of the year. Sometimes one is eaten on New Year’s Eve and another on New Year’s Day, to give a surplus year after year.
  • Fish is very nutritious, with protein for growth and repair and healthy omega 3 polyunsaturated fats to support heart health, mood and brain function. When cooking the fish, try steaming, baking in the oven or barbequing. Use extra virgin olive oil to brush the fish, as this adds monounsaturated fats which are great for maintaining heart health and absorbing fat-soluble vitamins from the food. Add in finely chopped vegetables such as onion, shallots, capsicums, carrots and mushrooms with the fish, to help hit your vegetable target.
  • Dumplings are a sign of wealth and it’s believed that eating more dumplings at New Year will bring in more wealth. Fillings vary, with cabbage and radish indicating that one’s kin will become fair and mood will become gentle.  Cabbages and radishes both provide fibre and vitamins like folate, which is important for red blood cell function.
  • Noodles resemble longevity. These provide carbohydrate so, to balance the meal, include vegetables and a protein source like fish or tofu, with around half of the meal consisting of vegetables.
  • A tradition is to cook more food than you need. However, plentiful food in a Lunar New Year celebration doesn’t mean you have to overeat, you can still eat slowly and until comfortable, being mindful of the tastes, flavours and overall celebratory experience.

What does it mean to be a Dog?

If you were born in the Year of the Dog, your defining characteristic is loyalty. You’ll always stay true to your friends, family and work. Your honesty and fairness mean you’re popular in social circles, and you’re good at giving out advice and help. However, Dogs are sometimes known as being stubborn as, once you decide on something, no one can persuade you against it!

So, to all the Dogs and everyone else out there, go forth and enjoy your year!

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