This month marked the start to The Year Of The Dragon.
The Chinese Lunar New Year kicked off January 23, and comes as the longest celebration in the Chinese calendar with celebrations held around the world from Beijing, China to Chinatown, New York.
It’s the year of the fire-breathing mythical creature in Chinese culture, which is one of the 12-year cycle of animals in the Chinese zodiac—The last year of the dragon was in 2000-2001.
The dragon is an extra special animal in the Chinese zodiac as it’s the only animal that is of ancient legend, and one that can’t be found in your own backyard.
The Chinese zodiac relates each year to an animal—The first animal of the Chinese zodiac is the rat, followed by the ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and ends with the pig—The Chinese zodiac is same as the Western zodiac as both cycles are divided into 12 parts, though in the Chinese zodiac it’s years rather than months.
The dragon is said to bring fortune, which was another added reason so many joined in the celebration this year. The dragon is also associated with intelligence and is believed to be the sign of successful (It was once reserved for only the king). The belief that the dragon is associated with success and fortune, according to Time, has caused some health officials anticipate a new wave of births, China is expecting a 5 percent increase in the number of births for 2012.
One of the most popular ways to party is taking part in the dragon dance. It’s a major tradition in which a huge dragon is held by celebrators and swirls through the streets. It’s one of the most memorable parts of the New Year’s celebration (Check the video below that shows a dragon dance from 2007).
There’s a whole lot of decoration too, with glowing lanterns, bamboo and for more informal parties, dragon danglers like those from partycheap.com.