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What is the ‘Year of the Dragon?’ – explaining the Chinese Lunar New Year

LANSING, Ill. (March 6, 2024) – According to Chinese tradition, the Chinese Lunar New Year is a celebration to enter the animal totem of the year. These animal totems are based on the Chinese horoscope belt, a yearly forecasting system. In the year of 2024, those who abide by the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrate the Year of the Dragon.

The importance of Chinese New Year

“I don’t know much about the Chinese Lunar New Year. But all of China stops,” said James Schuhrte.

Schuhrte is the owner of the China Doll Tattoo shop located at 7346 Calumet Avenue in Hammond, Indiana. Most of his shop’s tattoo equipment comes from China, and production for the store slows down during the Lunar New Year.

China Doll Tattoo & Piercing is located at 7346 Calumet Avenue in Hammond. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Schuhrte and China Doll Tattoo find themselves having to prepare a month in advance for the annual slow down.

“They are very big on not working during the hoilday,” he said.

What is the Chinese New Year, and what is the significance? Unlike the western New Year’s celebrations, the Lunar New Year is celebrated for multiple days. The Chinese New Year is also sometimes referred to as the Spring Festival. It is a celebration for many festivals such as blessing the home, honoring heavenly deities (the Chinese horoscope), and honoring one’s ancestors.

The celebration usually starts during the first new moon of the year which is usually between the end of January to the middle of February. The celebration carries on until the full moon.

Chinese Year of the Wood Dragon

The Year of the Dragon is noted to be a year of power and destruction, and it occurs every 12 years. Below are different Years of the Dragon and the events that took place during them. Note that some events spanned beyond just the Dragon year:

  • 1916 — World War I
  • 1940 — World War II
  • 1964 — Alaska Earthquake, the most powerful ever recorded in North America
  • 2000 — “Y2K bug” fears
  • 2012 — Hurricane Sandy
  • 2024 — Israel-Hamas War
This chart shows the Chinese New Year designations dating back to 1900.

For those who closely observe the Chinese calendar, events such as the recent AT&T mass network shutdown and ongoing solar flares may be attributed to the Year of the Dragon. For example, one possible interpretation is the “fire of the Dragon” is making the temperature of the planet rise, resulting in a warm February.

“The Year of Dragon represents will, boldness, pride, ego, royalty, gold, entertainment, talent, creativity, explosions, light, performance, and drama,” said Tina Johns, a Life and Wellness Coach at Crystal Chakra Studio in Munster, Indiana.

Crowns, prosperity, power

According to Johns, the Year of the Dragon is when crowns rise and fall. Queen Elizabeth II’s father, King George VI, passed away in the year 1952, a Dragon year. King Charles also announced his recent cancer diagnosis earlier this year.

“We will be crowned. We will channel our creativity. We will speak up for ourselves,” Johns said.

year of the dragon
Tina Johns is a Life and Wellness Coach at Crystal Chakra Studio, at 8144 Calumet Avenue in Munster. (Photo: Josh Bootsma)

Those feeling more action-oriented, powerful, assertive, competitive, fiery, and direct can — in terms of the Chinese New Year — thank the Wood Dragon. Chinese wisdom says to balance this energy out with grounding, reason, and rationale. Impulsivity will result in crowns tilting and eventually falling.

Traditional Chinese wisdom says those born during a year incompatible with the Dragon should be especially vigilant, such as the years of the Dog, Ox, and Goat.

The Year of the Dragon can also be recognized for good luck, abundance, and prosperity. Johns notes that the Dragon year correlates with crowns. If you’re experiencing recognition and reward at school, the workplace, or in your hobbies, she says you can thank this year’s Wood Dragon.

Eastern astrology vs. western astrology

Chinese metaphysical studies, also known as eastern astrology, differ in a few ways from metaphysics in the West. First, the Chinese horoscope goes off a yearly forecast, whereas in the west, a monthly system is used.

In western astrology, compatibility between signs is determined by each element of the sign. Water signs are most compatible with earth signs, and fire signs are most compatible with air signs.

In eastern astrology, the fourth and fifth Chinese signs from the Chinese year you were born in are the signs you are compatible with. For example, if you were born in the year of the Dragon you get along with the Monkey and Rooster. This would also means the upcoming Lunar New Years of the Monkey and Rooster (2028 and 2029) will be favorable years for you.

In Chinese astrology, one sign can carry each of the four elements (fire, metal, water, and wood). For example, you can be Water Dragon, Wood Dragon, Metal Dragon, and so on. This Lunar New Year is the year of the Wood Dragon.

Imani Muhammad
Imani Muhammad
Imani Muhammad is completing her Masters at Newhouse School of Public Communications. She has been published in both poetry and journalistic settings and is dedicated to bringing truthful and captivating stories to her audience.