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2012: The Year of the Dragon
January 23, 2012 to February 9, 2013 will mark the Year of the Dragon. According to tradition, the dragon is the fifth animal in the Chinese zodiac and symbolizes loyalty — it is noble, gentle, and intelligent, but also tactless, stubborn, and dogmatic. Those born on 2012, 2000, 1988 or any 12-year multiple are born into the Year of the Dragon and may share these personality traits. Interestingly, the dragon as a legendary creature also appears in many Western folk traditions.
Some people may host special dinners on the eve of January 22, 2012 to mark a new year of happiness and prosperity. From America to Australia, Chinese New Year is widely celebrated and has a history that can be traced back to Ancient China.
This is an exciting moment for family, friends, and the community — reunions, gatherings, greetings, and feasts abound. In major cities with large Chinese communities, the streets are often filled with parades of firecrackers, dancing, and singing, and are illuminated by the color red, which represents fortune in Chinese culture.
Depending on the parents/caregivers, children may be given an unofficial day off from school. Many will also receive a lucky red envelope, known as hóngbāo, which contains cash to ensure prosperity for the receiver and the giver (a family member or family friend who is married). Both will greet each other with this phrase, gōngxǐ fā cái (恭喜發財; in Mandarin-Chinese which translates as congratulations and be prosperous).
According to an Ancient Chinese Mythology, the animals were competing to meet the Jade Emperor; the years of the calendar would be named after them and the order of their arrival to the banquet. In the mythology, it states that the "cat" overslept and did not make it to the party and hence not listed in the calendar. Here is a list of the order of animals:
- Rat: 2008, 2020, 2032 ...
- Ox: 2009, 2021, 2033 ...
- Tiger: 2010, 2022, 2034 ...
- Rabbit: 2011, 2023, 2035 ...
- Dragon: 2012, 2024, 2036 ...
- Snake: 2013, 2025, 2037 ...
- Horse: 2014, 2026, 2038 ...
- Ram: 2015, 2027, 2039 ...
- Monkey: 2016, 2028, 2040 ...
- Rooster: 2017, 2029, 2041 ...
- Dog: 2018, 2030, 2042 ...
- Pig: 2019, 2031, 2043 ...
At NYPL, to express our enthusiasm for the Chinese New Year traditions, we've highlighted some resources relating to the Chinese New Year and to dragons in general!
- Check out upcoming programs celebrating the Chinese New Year at NYPL's local libraries >>
- Explore movies about or starring dragons >>
- Discover books about dragons >>
- Find children's books about the Chinese New Year >>
- Interested in learning Chinese for free through NYPL? Read more >>
- Peruse NYPL's Digital Gallery for images of dragons >>
As they say in Mandarin Chinese, xin nian kuai le! (shin nee-ahn kwai la) 新年快樂! — Happy New Year!