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We're Approaching the Year of the Dragon: What Does That Mean?

As we approach the Year of the Dragon, a sense of excitement and anticipation fills the air. But what exactly does this signify? Let's delve into the fascinating world of Lunar New Year celebrations and...

As we approach the Year of the Dragon, a sense of excitement and anticipation fills the air. But what exactly does this signify? Let's delve into the fascinating world of Lunar New Year celebrations and uncover the significance of the upcoming year.

The Lunar New Year and Its Global Celebration

While the majority of the world celebrates New Year on December 31st, there are around 2 billion people who observe the Lunar New Year. This international holiday is widely celebrated across many Asian countries, each with its own unique customs and traditions. Even in the United States, there are distinct Lunar New Year celebrations.

When Does Lunar New Year Occur?

The date of Lunar New Year changes annually as it follows a lunar calendar. While Western countries rely on the Gregorian calendar, consisting of 365 days, Lunar New Year follows the moon's 12 phases, spanning approximately 29 days per cycle. This results in a calendar of about 354 days. Generally, Lunar New Year falls within the last ten days of January or the first ten days of February.

Who Celebrates Lunar New Year?

Lunar New Year is celebrated in various Asian cultures, such as Chinese, South Korean, Vietnamese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Filipino, and Indonesian. Each culture has its own name for the New Year. For instance, it's called the Spring Festival or "chūnjié" in China, Seollal in South Korea, and Tết or Tết Nguyên Đán in Vietnam.

The Duration of Lunar New Year

Unlike the Western New Year, which lasts for a day, Lunar New Year extends beyond that. In China, the celebration starts with the Spring Festival and concludes with the Lantern Festival, spanning from the first new moon to the next full moon or the fifth day of the lunar month. The length of the celebration varies from country to country - three days in South Korea and a week in Vietnam.

Symbolism and Traditions of Lunar New Year

Similar to the Western New Year, Lunar New Year symbolizes bidding farewell to the past and embracing the present. It's a time for families to come together, showing love and gratitude to their ancestors and older family members. The customs practiced during Lunar New Year may vary within each community.

Preparing and indulging in feasts is an integral part of the celebration. People clean their homes and decorate them with red, a color symbolizing good fortune in Chinese culture. Families gather for a grand meal on Lunar New Year Eve, often featuring fish for luck and abundance. Red envelopes containing money are given to younger family members, while new clothes are often worn to mark the new year. Fireworks light up the sky, adding a spectacular touch to the festivities.

The Year of the Dragon

As the Year of the Rabbit fades away, it's time to welcome the Year of the Dragon. In the Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animals, each representing a year in a 12-year cycle. The order of the Chinese Zodiac is Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit (or cat in Vietnam), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. The dragon, a well-known mascot, symbolizes good luck, justice, prosperity, and strength. Those born in the year of the dragon are believed to possess charismatic, intelligent, confident, lucky, and gifted qualities.

Year of the Dragon The Year of the Dragon is here. Get ready for an exciting and auspicious year ahead.

Just Curious for More?

If you're curious about other fascinating questions and want to explore more, USA TODAY has got you covered. Dive into our Just Curious section, where we strive to answer the most common questions you ask every day. From "When is the first day of spring?" to "What is the biggest star?" to "How hot is the Sun?" - we're here to satisfy your curiosity.

Lunar New Year is not just a time for celebration; it's a vibrant tapestry of diverse cultures coming together to honor tradition and embrace a fresh start. So, as we approach the Year of the Dragon, let the spirit of renewal and auspicious beginnings fill your heart and bring joy to your life.