Year of the Dragon

Some say that the Dragon sign is the most auspicious sign within the Chinese Zodiac. The Dragon is a mythical creature therefore it is known for it’s good fortune, strength, and cosmic abilities. January 23, 2012 marked the beginning of the Year of the DragonĀ on the Lunar calendar. It’s also celebrated as Chinese New Year in Asia, the US, Canada, and anywhere Asians celebrate the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Dragon Chinese New Year celebration usually lasts around 2 weeks and based on the Lunar calendar, the dates for the start of the new year is around late January to early February.

The Dragon sign according to the Chinese Zodiac sign is the 5th in cycle of the 12 cycles (or animals). The Dragon in Chinese belief is known for its power, authority, and mystical abilities. It is honored rather than slain, like you’ll find in Western tales of the past. Characteristics of the Dragon signs are: Innovative, Enterprising, Self-Assured, Brave, Passionate, Conceited, Scrutinizing, and Quick-Tempered. And the Year of the Dragon 2012 marks the Water Dragon who are usually calmer, more perceptive, and more patient than the other elements.

Chinese New Year is usually a very exciting and fun event. Dragon and Lion dances celebrate the beginning of the event by “scaring” away the evil spirits. There are also traditional Chinese dancers dressed in traditional gowns as they dance and escort the Dragon and Lions. Chinese drums, flutes, and other instruments help celebrate the events with beautiful traditional music. The Dragon and Lion dance is fun to watch as you see the Dragon weave its way throughout the crowd as it follows the sound of the Chinese Drum to eventually lead to the front of the podium and “eats” an auspicious ball as a way of thanking and blessing its people. Fireworks are played thoughout the event to scare away evil spirits as well and the color Red is adorned throughout everywhere. Red is known as a lucky color according to the Chinese traditions and people will be wearing red, having red decorations at home, and eating something red. My favorite of all, is the Red Envelope which is a traditional way of blessing good fortune upon the receiver of the Red Envelope. Inside the Red Envelope there is usually money that you will give to children and elders and sometimes young newlyweds. When you receive the Red Envelope, it is customary to kneel on the floor in front of your elders and bless them with good health and good fortune as they hand you the Red Envelop.

Chinese New Year is usually the largest celebration in China and Taiwan as preparations for the holiday begins months ahead. It is customary to clean your entire house before the start of Chinese New Year to “sweep” away any evil spirits that may be lingering and to clean out the bad and the dirty. Decorations of auspicious words and characters are hung throughout the house and some even have fireworks (if allowed) and the “Nian Gao” which is a traditional year cake made with rice flour is eaten to give the person heightened prosperity. In Chinatown and across Chinese Buddhist temples in the US, the Chinese New Year is celebrated immensely with the Dragon and Lion dances, traditional Chinese dances, music, fireworks and good cheer throughout.

If you search through your local listings, you can probably find Chinese New Year celebrations still going on throughout the week and weekend. If you missed it this year, be sure to check it out next year as the Chinese New Year celebrations are not to be missed!

Happy Year of the Dragon – may you all be blessed with good fortune, good health, and prosperity!

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