Lunar New Year: The Year of the Dragon

In 2024, Chinese New Year, also known as Lunar New Year, is coming in with the power of centuries and a fire-breathing roar. Do you know why? It’s because 2024 is the Year of the Dragon.

The annual, and much-anticipated, holiday in the East begins on Saturday, February 10, 2024, and lasts until February 24 to mark the beginning of a brand-new year on the lunisolar Chinese calendar. That means in China, and in other countries with a large Chinese population, it is a public holiday. People are granted a reprieve from their employment to join in the festivities, beginning with Lunar New Year’s Eve. But the occasion holds a much deeper cultural significance beyond mere vacation time.

Lunar New Year symbolizes the end of the winter season and the beginning of spring, but its roots are steeped in legends going back thousands of years. Many believe the event is connected to the ancestor worship of the Shang dynasty. This practice happened at the beginning and the end of each year and is certainly reflected in the feasts and family gatherings of Lunar New Year.

Other traditions and rituals include dances, parades, special temple events, fireworks, decorating, and the giving of red envelopes (gifts of money often shared with children and older relatives) to wish them good health and great luck in the new year.

What Makes 2024 the Year of the Dragon?

If you want to know why 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, you only need to look as far as the Chinese zodiac. Unlike the Western zodiac, which is associated with the stars and constellations, the East uses a 12-year cycle assigning animals to the years. When 12 years have ended, the cycle begins again, so each new year always has its own animal.

Below are the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac starting with this year and following the order of the rest of the cycle. We have also included past years going back to 1964 and a few of the personality traits generally associated with the animals.

1. Year of the Dragon (2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964) – ambition and conviction

2. Year of the Snake (2025, 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965) – understanding and determination

3. Year of the Horse (2026, 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966) – independence and openness

4. Year of the Sheep (2027, 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967) – sensitivity and sincerity

5. Year of the Monkey (2028, 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968) – adventurous and cleverness

6. Year of the Rooster (2029, 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969) – independence and hard-working

7. Year of the Dog (2030, 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970) – loyalty and determination

8. Year of the Pig (2031, 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971) – kindness and innocence

9. Year of the Rat (2032, 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972) – intelligence and cunning

10. Year of the Ox (2033, 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973) – confidence and diligence

11. Year of the Tiger (2034, 2022, 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974) – bravery and trustworthiness

12. Year of the Rabbit (2035, 2023, 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975) – gentleness and kindness

Which animal are you? Let us know in the comments!

Power of the Myth: The Dragon Throughout History

Since 2024 is the Year of the Dragon, we thought we’d take a quick look back at this mythical creature and the increasing power of its lore throughout history.

Culturally, dragons are certainly at the forefront of our awareness. It seems like they are practically everywhere. Within the last few decades, popular movies and TV shows featuring the fire-breathing beast have almost transformed dragons from the things of fairy tales to reality, even though we all know dragons aren’t real. Or are they?

Historically, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when stories and imagery of dragons began to show up since they’ve been a part of mythology for thousands of years. But it’s safe to say that dragons are definitely ancient. Though slightly different in their appearance, depending on the culture, there are historical documentations of the dragon in ancient Mesopotamia, China, India, Egypt and Greece. They are also a big part of Chinese mythology, as well as European, Greek, Norse and Middle Eastern. This should indicate how significant the dragon truly is.

As deadly as a dragon seems to be, its myth does not always align with negativity. Yes, in some cultures, and certainly throughout its history in literature, dragons are seen as evil. A menacing scaly winged beast guarding its lair and waiting to bring destruction upon any who would threaten its territory. But in many other cultures, the dragon’s supernatural power and hidden knowledge are embraced. Coveted even. Cherished as mysteries to unlock, treasures to gain and spiritual energy to tap into. And because of the dragon’s prevalence in modern society, many even recognize the beauty in the beast, much like a misunderstood animal in the wild, rather than choose to vilify it as a nightmare.

Let the Festivities Begin: The Dragon’s Place in Lunar New Year

Dragons have always been a big part of Lunar New Year. In fact, the dragon dance is an annual celebratory ritual performed during that time of year. A team of performers control a very long mock dragon, using polls to move the parts of its body in a rhythmic dance through the streets. It’s the ideal entertainment for the Lunar New Year celebration, but it also has the purpose of frightening evil spirts away to provide a peaceful start to the year.

In addition to representing ambition and conviction for the individuals born during the Year of the Dragon, the mythical creature itself has come to signify great power, good luck and strength, especially in Chinese cultures. This makes a lot of sense given how the dragon’s popularity has spread and is confirmed by the overwhelming number of dragon imagery in popular art and literature today.

And speaking of dragon art? If you are a fan of these fire-breathing beasts, we have some great news for you. The Bradford Exchange offers unique dragon collectibles and dragon jewelry you won’t find anywhere else. That means you can harness all their mystery and power to bring into your own realm just by shopping. How does that sound? Thanks so much for reading and we hope you have a happy, safe and prosperous Year of the Dragon!

Lunar New Year: The Year of the Dragon by
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The Gift Advisors @The Bradford Exchange are thrilled to help you discover a wealth of artistic treasures, all of which began with passion. Whether you are looking for that perfect personalized gift or a unique collection for yourself, we are driven to make your shopping experience as joyful as possible and hope you are surprised and delighted with what you find. Thank you for your continued support.

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