31 January 2024
Not all cultures or religions use the same calendar. Generally, for consistency, countries use the Gregorian calendar, which is the one we are all used to with the first day of the new year January 1. There are also liturgical calendars to record religious events and celebrations.
However, many Asian countries celebrate a Lunar New Year. The Chinese refer to it as Spring Festival and Vietnamese call it Tet. There are also other names that we won’t pursue at this point. Working on a lunisolar basis, the lunar new year occurs somewhere between January and February on the standard calendar. Because it is based on the cycles of the moon and sun, the lunar calendar is anywhere from 21 to 51 days different from the Gregorian calendar, which is only solar based.
In 2024 the new lunar year begins February 10 and will be the year of the Dragon. Actually the Wood Dragon, but we will get into that later.
In most of the Asian cultures, people will be wearing red, which is a lucky color. Fruits (but not unlucky pears) are exchanged, friends and family visit back and forth. Gifts of cakes, flowers, and money are offered. There are parades, lanterns, and, of course, fireworks. Each country has a different length of time that they celebrate, several days at least.
Legend says that a call went out to all the animals of the world to come to the Jade Emperor. The years are named in order of the animals as they arrived at their final destination. The Dragon was the favorite since it could fly. However, along the way it saw a village in danger of destruction and by saving the village, the dragon lost its place. Kind heartedly, the Dragon provided a gust of wind to help Rabbit cross a river to a shore. That is how the Dragon ended up as the fifth sign of the zodiac.
The Chinese or lunar zodiac has twelve signs each assigned to the next year. In order they are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. Note that the only mythical creature in the bunch is the Dragon. In addition, five elements are included. They are: Earth, Water, Fire, Wood, Metal.
There are any number of myths and legends associated with this celebration. One involves a hideous beast called Nian. This creature feared the color red, loud noises, and fire. To frighten this monster away, lanterns are burned all night and firecrackers are set off.
For those who follow horoscopes, the year of the Dragon (2024) will bring luck, wealth, and power. There may be opportunities for growth. However, there will also be challenges and conflicts which will require forgiveness and peaceful resolution. So, expect opportunities and risks, which are fine as long as they are aligned with your underlying principals. Changes are in the offing. While you might feel lucky, still be cautious with spending and speculative investments.
Babies born between February 10, 2024 and January 28, 2025 are born under the sign of the Dragon. It is thought that those born during this time are destined for good fortune and greatness. In fact, statistics show that in many Asian nations, there are more births during years where the Dragon rules.
For personality traits, try adventurous, charismatic, strong, and intelligent. So, if you are raising a Dragon child, be prepared for world travelers or challenges for president of the student council. They may gravitate to careers like journalist or public relations. For their studies, most Dragons will accomplish at least a bachelor’s degree. They will probably stand out in a class, but not always in a good way. They may clash with classmates who do not share their same vision, especially in the area of fairness. With all that charisma, expect a social butterfly with lots of invites.
Whatever happens and whatever you believe, enjoy the year!