Chinese New Year in Vegas – Year of the Dog

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“If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.”

-Will Rogers

Happy Chinese New Year!  The Chinese calendar marks 2018 as the Year of the Dog, and the beginning of the celebration falls on this the same week as Flynn’s win at the 142nd Westminster Dog Show!  The world really is going to the dogs…how apropos!

The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, has more than 4,000 years of history and is the longest holiday of the year. This year, the Year of the Dog, begins on February 16th and ends March 2nd. Las Vegas events and activities are notably planned and observed throughout the “valley” and Las Vegas Strip. Every Chinese New Year, Las Vegas resorts transform their properties with extravagant displays and elaborate décor. 

China Lights Illuminating Craig Ranch

The new kid on the block is: China Lights Illuminating Craig Ranch. China Lights, a family friendly-festival makes it’s Las Vegas debut at Craig Ranch. This Lantern Festival will bring hundreds of larger-than-life, fully-illuminated, lanterns, as well as Chinese cultural performances and special handicrafts to Las Vegas now through February 25th. In addition to lanterns, nightly performances, special weekend events, and handicrafts, the event will also offer food and beverages. China Lights Las Vegas is located at Craig Ranch Regional Park, 628 Craig Rd. North Las Vegas, NV. 89032. Parking is free, and ticket prices range from $12 – $20.

As is the case every year, the mega resorts spare no expense showcasing their properties and venues with stunning and festive decorations that commemorate the holiday with traditional Chinese cuisine and activities.  As a dog lover and lover of dogs, this year especially made me stand up and take notice with its tie to man’s /woman’s best friend!

Bellagio Conservatory & Botanical Gardens

At the garden’s edge, ding pots – ancestral vessels that protect against bad fortune – burn incense from their peaks for good luck. Four fountains line the dome as a fifth filled with giant coins is found at the center of the walkway. The 18-foot Siberian Husky, representing loyalty and bravery, watches over two children as they play with lanterns and fireworks, and is joined by other dogs running and jumping through the West Garden. Nearby, a 16-foot Moon Gate towers over the South Garden, highlighting lush vegetation and a tranquil pond filled with live Koi Fish. On view: Now through March 3, 2018 with free admission. Hours: Open 7 days a week, 24 hours for your viewing pleasure.

Year of the Dog 101

The Dog is the eleventh of all zodiac animals. According to one myth, the Jade Emperor said the order would be decided by the order in which they arrived to his party. Monkey, Rooster and Dog were in another country, helping a god defeat evil spirits. After, they set off to the party together. Because they arrived at the same time, the Jade Emperor went by the order they met the god in the other country. Thus, Dog became eleventh.

The Dog is also associated with the Earthly Branch), and the hours 7–9 in the evening. In the terms of yin and yang the Dog is yang.

In China, it is still popular to name dogs Wàng Cái. It means “prosperous wealth” and comes from dogs’ barking sounds (wàng wàng).

Recent years of the Dog are: 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Paired with the Celestial Stems, there is a 60-year calendrical cycle. Although xū is associated with earth, the years also cycle through the five elements of nature (wǔ xíng).

A Dog’s most defining characteristic is their loyalty. They will never abandon their friends, family or work.

Honest and just, they are popular in social circles. Everyone needs a Dog friend for advice and help. They are also good at helping others find and fix their bad habits.

Despite how they act, they are worried and anxious inside. However, they will not let this stop them. Once they decide on something, no one can persuade them against it.

Men born in the Dog year are straightforward and genuine. They are energetic, though they’re more pessimistic inside.

Very opinionated, they’re always ready to correct others and defend their stance. It’s not that they want to show off. They just feel it’s necessary to help others realize their mistakes.

These men care deeply for their family. Their stubbornness fades in the face of their loved ones. They work to understand and compromise, resulting in a harmonious family life.

Women born in the Dog year are very cautious. They are indifferent towards people they don’t like, and don’t trust easily. But once they do, it’s permanent. They are intensely protective of their friends and family.

They are genial and independent. They love outdoor activities and being in nature. However, they are also hard workers and don’t give up until they succeed. Security and a stable income are her requirements for a career.

CNY 101

As an event planner, and a Las Vegas DMC, it is important to be culturally informed and aware of this most auspicious occasion. Here are the CliffsNotes on CNY 2018 to brush up on the celebration and folklore associated with the holiday:

February 16th: Spring Festival 

The original name for this day was Yuán Dàn, with Yuan meaning “the beginning.” However, Yuan Dan is now used to refer to the New Year of the solar calendar.

  • Lunar date
    January 1st
  • Solar (Gregorian) date
    February 16th, 2018
  • Activities & traditions
    Firecrackers start off a day of greetings and blessings between neighbors. There are no specific activities other than celebrating the New Year. The ancient Chinese record and analyze the weather, stars and moon to predict the fortunes of the year. The practice is known as zhàn suì.
  • Food
    In addition to food from last night, people can also celebrate with Tu Su wine.
  • Superstitions & beliefs
    It is forbidden to sweep or clean on this day, else good fortune will be swept away.

Best in Show

As I close out this blog I am reminded of National Dog Show host, Seinfeld actor John O’Hurley, and his thoughts on the dogs in our lives in the poem below called, “The Perfect Dog.”

The Perfect Dog

My son asked a question as little boys do
Of me in my wisdom and all that I knew.

“Is there a dog that is perfect?” he asked on a whim, 

Well, I thought and I thought about where to begin.

“He’d have ears that were floppy… or cropped and alert
And eyes that were sleepy… or perky and pert,
He’d leap like a bunny or sit in your lap
And run fast as horses… or opt for a nap.

“A dog that is perfect would be covered in spots
Or maybe one-color … and then have spots-not.

“He’d be small as a teacup… or big as a house,
With a nose that seemed flattened … or long like a mouse,

“He’d swim and he’d hunt with a coat flying free
Or be dainty and delicate … and ‘He’d’ be a ‘She’

As I struggled to answer, and not with a clue,
My son, with a smile, said, out of the blue,
With the wisdom of children, what he already knew…

The dog that is perfect … is the one next to you.

– John O’Hurley

Feel free to grab a Kleenex, no one’s looking. This poem is what I and my family commonly refer to as a “tearjerker”, and it gets me every time. So, celebrate the Year of the Dog as one should do, and go out and play fetch with you know who.

Happy New Year! (新年快乐) 



The Perfect Dog by John O’Hurley – Published October 31st 2013 by Grosset & Dunlap