Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon

Dragon canoe on Waikiki

While on a recent visit to Honolulu, I was happy to come across the Waikiki dragon canoe! The canoe is used during Chinese New Year celebrations. Chinese New Year is a major holiday for Chinese families. It’s all about bringing good luck. Big family gatherings, festive decorations, gift giving, and sharing symbolic foods ensure good luck in the new year. The start of Chinese New Year is dictated by the lunar calendar. It is a different day each year, usually falling between late January and February. In 2012 the new year began January 23rd. In Hawaii, Chinese New Year events run through most of January and February.

2012 is the year of the dragon, and it is considered the luckiest of Chinese Zodiac years. Many couples will make an extra effort to give birth before February 9, 2013, when year of the snake begins. Those with dragon birthdays are thought to enjoy a better chance of being the strongest, smartest, and luckiest according to experts. A lucky zodiac means more hope for the baby’s success. Being aligned with the Chinese zodiac is a cultural priority. The year of the dragon is supposed to be particularly fortunate for newborns, wedding days and commerce.

Some of the many Chinese New Year traditions and symbols that bring good luck include:

  • Cleaning house and new clothes. Cleaning removes any back luck and allows the house to accept good luck. Wearing red is popular as the color is associated with warding off bad spirits.
  • Decorating the house. The word fu is used on decorations. It means luck and happiness. Fresh flowers symbolize spring and a new beginning.
  • Eating with your family. Eight or nine dishes are served because they are lucky numbers. The Cantonese words eight and prosperity rhyme. The word for nine means long lasting.
  • Giving good luck gifts. Children and unmarried young adults receive little red envelopes with money which symbolizes wealth and prosperity.
  • Making lanterns. They symbolize the brightness of spring, hanging on walls or on poles to be carried in lantern parades.
  • Honoring the animal. Every year is associated with one of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Find the dragon on decorations, and in Hawaii, elaborately carved canoes.

Be present to absorb all this good luck energy! Attend a Chinese New Year Parade in your area. There can be floats, fireworks, performances, marching bands, and there’s always a dramatic dragon or lion dance. Dancers are under an impressively decorated, long and silky dragon or lion costume. The dragon or lion visits homes and businesses to scare away bad luck. Those visited “feed” red envelopes to theĀ  animal to promote good luck.

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