It’s time for Chinese New Year, and the skies over every Chinese city are lit by night-long firework shows. During the days leading up to 23 January and for a while afterwards, it’s legal to set off fireworks in China (as opposed to the rest of the year). As well as setting off fireworks, many Chinese have been attending temple fairs, which take place at temples throughout China during the first week of Chinese New Year. At these temples, the people come together to eat snacks such as lamb skewers (羊肉串) and New Year cake made from rice (年糕). They sit and chat with one another, buy New Year’s decorations and emblems, and watch dragon dances. It’s also common for temple-goers to pay their respects to their ancestors while they are at the temple.
The Chinese Zodiac (生肖 – shēngxiào) consists of twelve animal signs, each representing a year according to the lunar calendar. The Year of the Dragon is written as 龙 (lóng).
The sign begins on the first day of the Lunar New Year. In 2012, the Lunar New Year began on January 23, and will be the Year of the Dragon, 龙年 (lóng nián) in Mandarin Chinese.
Year of the Dragon Characteristics
In Chinese culture, people born in the Year of the Dragon are considered to be lucky and powerful. The dragon is a symbol of good fortune and authority, so those whose sign is the dragon are afforded honor and respect.
It is for this reason that many parents most like to have a child during a dragon year and as a result there are more children born during the dragon years than any others. One side effect of this larger number of people is that there is increased competition for many things such as university positions and jobs, so some also say that it is most difficult to be born in the year of the dragon!
Some of the positive characteristics of Dragon people are:
- innovative (创新 – chuàngxīn)
- enterprising (进取 – jìnqǔ)
- flexible (灵活 – línghuó)
- self-assured (自信 – zìxìn)
- brave (勇敢 – yǒnggǎn)
- passionate (热情 – rèqíng)
On the other hand, dragon people are also known to be:
- conceited (自负 – zìfù)
- tactless (无礼 – wúlǐ)
- scrutinizing (吹毛求疵 – chuī máo qiú cī)
- quick-tempered (急性子 – jí xìngzi)