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Happy Lunar New Year: It's the Year of the Dog. But what does that mean?

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A dog around a bonfire outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
A dog around a bonfire outside of Fairbanks, Alaska.
Evan Frost | MPR News

Friday marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year — and internet rejoice because it's the Year of the Dog.

Here's a quick look at what that means and, just because we can, some very good-looking dogs from our photo archive.

What is the Lunar New Year?

Though it is sometimes referred to as the Chinese New Year, the holiday is actually celebrated by many Asian countries, including China, Vietnam, Korea, and Laos.

The Lunar New Year doesn't fall on the same day each year, instead it follows a lunar calendar. The first day starts off a weeklong celebration with cash gifts, firecrackers, food and dancing.

If you're looking for a place to join in the on the fun, events will be held this weekend at The Mall of AmericaValley View Middle School in Edina and several restaurants and breweries around the Twin Cities.   

Why a dog?

The animals of the Chinese zodiac are used in many East Asian countries to represent the new year. There are 12 animals in the zodiac — the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

The legend of the zodiac varies but most re-tellings involve some version of the animals racing to a heavenly gate, with the results of the race revealing their status in heaven's guard, their order of appearance on the calendar and personality traits of people born in their years.

So, am I a dog?

If you were born in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994 or 2006 congratulations, you were born in the Year of the Dog. You are a loyal, hard-working and honest person... according to legend anyways.

Now, as promised, here's a look at some dogs you can enjoy no matter what year it is. Send pictures of the hound in your life by tagging #MPRNews on Twitter.