Chinese New Year: Year of the Dragon

The Chinese New Year is a day of reverence on the traditional Chinese calendar. It’s a time for honoring ancestors and deities, but since the 20th century it’s evolved into a day to relax and celebrate togetherness as a family. On January 23, 2012 the Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, will usher in the year of the dragon.

Chinese Zodiac History

The Chinese zodiac measures time with lunar phases, creating a cycle of 12 years with 12 signs based on animals. One legend says that the animals argued over the order of the cycle so the gods organized a contest, saying that the first animal to cross the river would be the first in the cycle. The sly rat hitched a ride on the back of the ox, so now the order goes: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and lastly the pig.

Year of the Dragon

Dragons are deeply rooted in Chinese culture. The dragon was considered a god with power over waterfalls and rain. The ancient Chinese emperors are said to have considered themselves dragons; it’s reported that they referred to their throne as a dragon seat. Their dragons were a combination of nine animals including the neck of a snake, the claws of an eagle, and the paws of a tiger. Dragons are a symbol of power, divinity, and intelligence.

The dragon is celebrated in the years of 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, and now 2012. The dragon is considered the mightiest sign and is associated with blessings. Those born in the year of the dragon are considered lucky. They are also considered natural leaders, brave, energetic, self-confident, but also short-tempered and sensitive.

Spring Festival Ideas

Looking to get in on the fun and celebrate? Now people of all nationalities participate in Chinese New Year festivals, which usually have traditional songs, dance, music, and feasts. There are festivals across the world including New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, London, and Sydney. It’s you’re interested; see if your local community is planning a celebration.