Alexandra Sieh
Alexandra Sieh

"Oof, things aren't looking good for you this year," I called over.

"Go on, then," Manfriend muttered.

"Well, your finances will be good ..." "Yay" "... but your health stars are way low."

And so it's with a prediction of "being hurt by sharp metal instruments" that Manfriend the fire rabbit moves into 2018.

I, on the other hand, will slither my "earth snake" self into top stars for health, finances and love.

Nice.

To clarify, this animal talk isn't some sort of crass furries joke. No, this particular instance of procrastination on my part came from looking into Chinese (or Lunar) New Year, which will be Feb. 16 this year. And thanks to the "China Highlights" website, I had a breakdown of every animal in the Chinese Zodiac.

Red lanterns in Beijing
Many lanterns hang along Beijing s streets these days. (Alexandra Sieh / Colorado Daily)

"And this is useful to your holiday research how?" Manfriend asked.

"Because," I explained, "we need to know about our animal to know how we'll do in the Year of the Dog."

With the new lunar year is a new animal, and it seems it isn't just the rabbits that will struggle in 2018.

You'll need to look up your own Chinese Zodiac sign to see how the dog will treat you. Ironically, though, it's you dogs that aren't destined for much luck at all — in fact, a number of sites predict financial woes and other bad times ahead.

Ruh-roh.


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For the rest of us, though, this new year is bringing in bright days. Also called Spring Festival, this is a very important holiday, not only in China but across Asia. Different countries have their own traditions. Being based in Beijing, I'm most familiar with the great swaths of red, via decorations and lanterns, that are coating city streets.

Why red? Well, back in the Shang Dynasty (around the 14th century B.C.), folks believed a great "Nian" monster swept through villages, eating children and livestock. However, this powerful creature feared loud sounds and the color red, so folks would blast off fireworks and sport red clothing to ward off the beast.

Seems reasonable.

This is also when other traditions begins. Everyone's cleaning out their homes and paying off old debts. You don't need that bad luck following you into the new year.

As an expat, I've chosen, instead, to take a nice, long vacation. Rather than reunite with family, though, as most of the other (literally) billions of travelers this season will, this frazzled and frozen lass is headed out to toasty Southeast Asia.

"Lucky we're headed there, really," I called back out. "The folks at China Highlights recommend, for my health, that I 'visit holiday villages or resorts to strengthen (my) body.'"

"And for me?" Manfriend asked.

"'Take time to adjust your mind by walking along a lakeside.'"

I guess we're lake-bound, folks.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Read more Sieh: coloradodaily.com/columnists. Stalk her: instagram.com/wildeyed_wandering.