Chinese New Year celebrates Year of Dragon

Chinese+New+Year

Photo by Kelsie Chong

Chinese New Year welcomes the year of the Dragon, bringing in longevity, wealth and prosperity. Chinese traditions and customs are practiced in celebration of the new year.

By Kelsie Chong, features co-editor

Dating back many centuries, Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, has remained an important festivity on the Chinese calendar.

This year, today, January 23, 2012, will be the start of the 15-day celebration and commemoration of those born in the year of the Dragon. These individuals would have been born in 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988 or 2000.

Recurring every 12 years and coming immediately after the Rabbit, the Dragon is believed to bring longevity, wealth and prosperity.

Families gather to feast and partake in cultural practices, often in hopes of fending off ominous spirits. However, many have foregone some of the older traditional Chinese customs, like ritual sacrifices of food to gods.

In the 21st century, more Chinese families focus on celebrating the Spring Festival through presents, family gatherings and food.

To ensure good luck and prosperity in the New Year, money is placed in red envelopes and given to family members and loved ones.

During the first five weeks of the New Year, traditionally, people eat primarily long noodles, symbolizing long-life, and round dumplings shaped like the full moon that will appear on the 15th and final day.

Many of these Chinese customs are believed to bring good luck to the household, scare away evil spirits, and/or promise long life to the family.

One aspect of this tradition that continues to fascinate many is a belief in the symbolism of the animals associated with each New Year – the animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Legends assert that Dragons are the free spirits of the zodiac. They do not like to be constrained. Instead, with their extroverted personalities, Dragons enjoy being confident and fearless.

Aside from their extreme ambitions and know-it-all persona, Dragons must be cautious of allowing their pride to disrupt their potential for great success.

Some occupations well suited for Dragons include, inventors, engineers, architects, managers, advertising agents and psychoanalysts. These people are known to be hard workers, but prefer giving orders rather than receiving them.

Dragons are most compatible with Rats and Monkeys and least compatible with Dogs. The ideal partner must be emotionally stable and strong because Dragons can often be insensitive and moody.

Chinese New Year is recognized on a different day each year because the dates are based on the lunar and solar movements.

According to the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, the zodiac’s cycle needs to go through its complete rotation before welcoming those born in the year of the dragon again. That day will fall on February 10, 2024.

Kung Hei Fat Choy!