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Chinese New Year 2024: The Year of the Dragon





The year 2023 has ended, as always, on December 31, and you have surely heard Paolo Fox or Branko making their horoscope predictions and "foretelling" the course of the new year in terms of love, work, and luck.

Regardless of whether you believe in the idea that the arrangement of planets and stars can influence our daily lives, we must be clear in our minds that our horoscope, the Western one, is not the only one that exists. There are others, and among them, the most famous is undoubtedly the Chinese horoscope.






Red lanterns glowing for Chinese New Year 2024, Year of the Dragon


Quick Summary


  • Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a 15-day celebration based on the lunar calendar, differing from the Western New Year on January 1st. It differs from Western astrology, which is monthly and based on constellations, as the Chinese zodiac is a 12-year cycle with each year represented by an animal and associated with the year of birth, incorporating elements and Yin-Yang polarities.


  • The festival involves cleaning houses, ancestor worship, festive meals, and public decorations, symbolizing the elimination of the old to welcome the new. It's a significant time for family reunions, with customs like lighting fireworks, exchanging lucky red envelopes, and avoiding certain activities considered unlucky.


  • The year 2024 marks the Chinese Year of the Wood Dragon, starting from February 10, 2024, to January 28, 2025. The Wood Dragon combines the Dragon's characteristics of vitality and leadership with the Wood element's qualities of humility and growth, symbolizing creativity, open-mindedness, and ambition.



An Astrological Comparison: Western Zodiac Signs vs. Chinese Zodiac Signs


  • Western astrology consists of 12 signs, corresponding to the 12 constellations visible from the northern hemisphere, which are touched by the Sun and other planets orbiting along the ecliptic: each month the Sun enters a sign determining its season and our birthday. Moreover, the zodiac signs are divided based on the 4 elements: Fire (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius), Earth (Taurus, Virgo, and Capricorn), Air (Gemini, Libra, and Aquarius), and Water (Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces) (Cosmopolitan, 2023).


  • In Chinese astrology, however, the 12 signs are replaced by 12 animals corresponding to the year of birth and not the month. The Chinese zodiac signs are then divided based on the 2 energetic polarities of Yin (Buffalo, Rabbit, Snake, Goat, Pig, Rooster) and Yang (Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Dog) and based on the 5 elements: Metal (if the last number of your birth year corresponds to 0 or 1), Water (if it corresponds to 2 or 3), Wood (if it corresponds to 4 or 5), Fire (if it corresponds to 6 or 7), and Earth (if it corresponds to 8 or 9) (Cosmopolitan, 2020).


How Did the Chinese Horoscope Originate and How Does It Work?


Also known as Shengxiao, the Chinese zodiac is a cycle that repeats every 12 years, and each year is symbolized by a different animal, with unique characteristics and peculiarities. In order, they are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig.


This arrangement is not random but is said to have been established by an ancient legend: before leaving the earthly world so that his soul could reach Nirvana, Buddha is said to have gathered all the animals of nature, but only 12 would have appeared. In recognition of their gratitude, he would have named each of them as the ruler of a year, according to the order in which they had presented themselves. According to this legend, the ox was supposed to arrive first, but the rat, cunning and dishonest, would have completed the entire journey on the back of the ox and, in front of the Buddha, would have jumped down and greeted him before all the others (Vogue, 2023; Reader’s Digest, 2023).


Buddha statue in serene setting for lunar new year

Chinese New Year: Traditions, Lunar Phases, and Ancient Legends


The Chinese New Year is a 15-day festival that involves China and all Chinese communities around the world. These celebrations fall at a very specific time of the year. First of all, it is also called the Spring Festival because it coincides with the time when the coldest weeks of winter have already passed in the northern hemisphere, the first warmth of spring begins to "sprout," and agricultural activities such as plowing and sowing can start (China Highlights, 2023).


The Chinese New Year begins on a day belonging to a rather wide time frame that goes from January 21 to February 20. It is a festival that begins with the new moon, ends with the following full moon, and all the ceremonies in between are marked by the lunar phases.


Just as with the Chinese zodiac, the origins of the Chinese New Year can be traced back to legend: thousands of years ago, a monster called Nian was said to attack the inhabitants of the villages of ancient China at the beginning of each new year. However, the monster was greatly afraid of noises, bright lights, and the color red, which is why those things would have been used (and continue to be used) to drive away the beast (Britannica, 2023).



Chinese New Year: Celebrations and Millennia-Old Traditions


The Chinese New Year is the most solemn festival for the entire Chinese community, celebrated for thousands of years with various activities throughout the country and beyond. Fundamental during the festivities is the elimination of the old and bad to welcome the new and good. It includes ancestor worship by burning incense, exorcizing evil spirits, and prayers for a good harvest.


Tradition involves cleaning houses to eliminate the old and unwanted objects, beautifying buildings with red couplets, lanterns, and new furnishings, buying flowers and special food items. Everyone takes a bath to purify themselves and wash away bad luck before the end of the year. Children and adults wear new clothes and shoes for the festive period.


Family celebrates the new year 2024, Year of the Dragon with joy


Chinese New Year is an important occasion for family reunions, with many people traveling to return home to their loved ones.

The New Year's dinner is a crucial moment where typical dishes such as dumplings and fish, symbols of abundance and wealth, are served to all people sitting around a large table. Streets, squares, and public places are decorated with banners, flags, flower pots, and oranges to increase the festive atmosphere: mainly peaches, plums, and daffodils are used because they are thought to bring good luck.


Millennia-old traditions also include the lighting of fireworks and the exchange of lucky loaves, placed inside red envelopes.

Traditionally, if someone sees one of the "Lucky Mascots" on New Year's Day, it is believed that they will be very lucky in the coming year. The four "lucky mascots" are Dragon, Phoenix, Unicorn, and Dragon Turtle, i.e., imaginary animals that live in the sea or fly in the sky. This is why Lion and Dragon dances are performed.


Practices considered unlucky and, consequently, to be avoided include not sweeping the floor on New Year's Day and not throwing trash or water out of the house. If the floor is swept, all the dirt should be kept in the house, as throwing it away would mean parting with wealth for the next year. It is also important not to touch diners' feet with a broom, as this would bring bad luck. Moreover, people do not leave the house through the back door, even on New Year's Day. The eldest family members do not scold children, even if they do not behave as they should... Instead, they give them a lucky allowance, contained in a red envelope (Royal Museum Greenwich).



The Year of the Wood Dragon: Personality, Strengths, and Weaknesses


Chinese New Year 2024 will begin on February 10, 2024, and with that date starts the Year of the Wood Dragon, which will end on January 28, 2025.


While the zodiac sign of the Dragon repeats (like the other signs) once every 12 years (for example, Dragon Years were 1976, 1988, 2000, and 2012), precisely, the Year of the Wood Dragon repeats (like the other elements to which each animal can be associated) once every 60 years (those born in 1964 or will be born in 2024 belong to the Wood Dragon).


Considered among the most vital and powerful creatures of the Chinese zodiac, those born in the Year of the Wood Dragon are distinguished by their curiosity and creativity. Open and liberal, they love to explore different paths in life, are highly motivated, and aim to build fulfilling careers, realizing their ambitions with often revolutionary ideas.



Illuminated Dragon, symbol of Chinese New Year 2024


Unlike other Dragons, who can appear arrogant and presumptuous, Wood Dragons are known for their humility and, when faced with important decisions, willingly listen to the advice of those they consider more experienced and wise. They are natural leaders with unparalleled charm, which is why they do not go unnoticed.


Wood Dragons are lively, enthusiastic, intelligent, perfectionists, and aspire to maintain high standards. Their main goal: to change the world and make it a better place! However, their egocentrism and constant search for independence can hinder personal relationships, often leading them to solitary lives.


Despite being sharp and brilliant, they can be intrusive in discussions and tend to ignore reasoning, following instinct. They can show stormy and irritable emotions when annoyed, and their criticism of others' inefficiency can hurt. They should learn to relax, adapt to situations, and be slightly more accommodating (Lifestyle Asia).



The Year of the Dragon: Lucky Colors and Makeup Tips


According to the Chinese calendar, each year can be associated with lucky colors that are good to wear, but at the same time, there are unlucky colors that should be avoided as much as possible.


Chinese man in gold, symbolising luck for the Year 2024 of the Dragon

For Chinese New Year 2024, the lucky colors would be gold, silver, and silvery white; on the other hand, the unlucky colors would be black, red, green, and purple (Travel China Guide, 2023).


Based on this, here are some products I recommend to be "en pendant" with the beliefs associated with the Year of the Wood Dragon:


  • Pearl White Eyeshadow by Finis Terre: With a vegan formula and 100% mineral composition, this eyeshadow is made with all the precautions useful in reducing the risk of allergies. With its dual function as eyeshadow and highlighter, the pearl white/silver shade is very special because it is a middle ground between white, the color of mourning in China, and gray, a symbol of humility and modesty, but also of darkness, illegality, and injustice (Dig Mandarin, 2023). However, it has a positive value, as it is the color of the hair of older people, and in China, the elderly enjoy the utmost respect thanks to their wisdom: the most important decisions are not made without their prior consultation (Facts and details).

  • Gold Lipstick by IncaRose: Free of parabens, petrolatum, allergens, and PEG, this lipstick is dermatologically tested and is especially suitable for people allergic to nickel; rich in hyaluronic acid, it smooths, hydrates, and compacts the lips. In Chinese culture, gold represents wealth, prosperity, power, royalty, and opulence. According to Chinese beliefs, this color also symbolizes happiness and good fortune and would attract positive energy (GMA, 2023).

  • Silver Eye Pencil by Neve Cosmetics: Ideal for a smokey eye makeup, this pencil is vegan, 100% made in Italy, and cruelty-free, free of silicones, parabens, and petrolatum. In Chinese culture, silver is associated with wealth and prosperity due to its ancient use as currency. This makes silver a popular color for decorations and accessories during special events like weddings, symbolizing wishes for a prosperous life. In addition to its connection with wealth, silver is considered a color of elegance and refinement, often chosen as a discreet alternative to gold (Ling, 2023).  



A Chinese New Year of Hope for Everyone


We concluded 2023 with a mix of love and hate. The interest in cultures and societies different from our own has pushed us to go beyond Western borders, exploring the Chinese horizon. The traditions of the Chinese New Year and the entrance into the Year of the Wood Dragon offer us a different view towards a reality far from us. In this journey of discovery, the desire to know and respect diversity has been and will continue to be our compass to not get lost in a world of discrimination and prejudice.



FAQs


What exactly is Chinese New Year?


Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is a 15-day festival celebrated by the Chinese community worldwide. It begins with the new moon and ends with the following full moon. The festival involves various traditions, such as cleaning houses, ancestor worship, festive meals, and public decorations. It's a time for family reunions and is marked by specific lunar phases.



Do Chinese celebrate New Year Jan 1?


No, the Chinese New Year does not start on January 1st. It begins on a day within a time frame from January 21 to February 20, depending on the lunar calendar. It's different from the Western New Year celebrated on January 1st.



What are the 12 Chinese zodiac signs?


The 12 Chinese zodiac signs are Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each sign corresponds to a specific year and is part of a 12-year cycle.



What is the difference between the Chinese zodiac and the Western zodiac?


The Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle with each year represented by an animal, and it's associated with the year of birth, not the month. It also incorporates elements and Yin-Yang polarities. The Western zodiac, on the other hand, consists of 12 signs based on constellations and is divided according to the month of birth and four elements (Fire, Earth, Air, Water).



What’s the Chinese New Year 2024?


Chinese New Year 2024 begins on February 10, 2024, and it marks the start of the Year of the Wood Dragon. It's a time for various traditional celebrations and customs, lasting until January 28, 2025.



What animal is Lunar New Year 2024?


The animal for the Lunar New Year 2024 is the Dragon.



Is 2024 a Dragon year?


Yes, 2024 is a Dragon year in the Chinese zodiac cycle.



What Dragon is 2024?


The year 2024 is specifically the Year of the Wood Dragon, which is a combination of the Dragon zodiac sign and the Wood element.



What does it mean to be a wood Dragon?


Being a Wood Dragon means possessing the characteristics of the Dragon zodiac sign, such as vitality, creativity, and leadership, combined with the qualities of the Wood element, like humility, adaptability, and a focus on growth. Wood Dragons are known for their creativity, open-mindedness, and ambition, but they can also be egocentric and value independence, sometimes leading to solitary lives.

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