2012 is underway, and in a couple of weeks it will be the Lunar new year. For some cultures that follow the Chinese Zodiac, or their own version of it, this year is an auspicious one because it belongs to one of the most highly regarded signs — the dragon.
The Chinese zodiac is regarded by other Asian cultures apart from the Chinese, most of which have strong influences and ties to China. Countries such as Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and the Philippines all celebrate their own versions of the lunar new year.
Japanese new year’s cards. Image from the Japan Post.
Lunar new year is always a colorful celebration wherever you go, and is traditionally celebrated with several festivities that last about a week or so. In many Asian countries, it is almost as significant as the Gregorian new year, with the first day or first few days granted as public holidays. Festivities during Lunar new year include festivals and street markets, exchanging red envelopes filled with money (for prosperity), and eating the traditional rice cake. Apart from the usual colorful events that take place, one thing I also enjoy is the lovely visual feast that embodies the culture and traditions of the holiday.
In the chinese zodiac, the dragon is considered to be one of the most powerful signs, perhaps because of its mythical nature. Many also believe that this year, 2012 is particularly lucky because besides it being the dragon’s year it is also a leap year! It only follows then that there have already been preparations around the world for grand celebrations of this year.
Although this paper sculpture was made last year for the celebration of the year of the Rabbit, i thought it was a fresh, contemporary take on the idea of chinese paper-cut dragons. Definitely a craft project to keep in mind for future new years!
In Singapore, the chef of the Fairmont Hotel’s Szechuan court prepared a “Golden Dragon” dish in celebration of the dragon year – composed of swordfish, abalone, lobster, and salmon, drizzled with a special sauce and sprinkled with gold dust. Definitely a prosperous dish for a hopefully prosperous new year!
Perhaps unsuprisingly the most impressive preparations for the dragon year are taking place in Beijing. On the 9th of January, workers tested a dragon made of 3, 000 lanterns in Yongdingmen Square Park to make sure the impressive installation lights up for the celebrations that will start on February 23.
To me, dragons have somehow always had an impressive aura to them, and are the perfect symbol for prosperity and positive energy. Hopefully 2012 will have plenty of favorable events for everyone! Happy New Year!