Chinese New Year is always a joyous event ‒ a riotous blend of colour, sound, and spectacle. In the home, you might be sharing food with your extended family, a red envelope clutched in your hand while jasmine tea scents the air.
You might be twining together lanterns, their traditional red-and-gold adornments bringing prosperity to the time ahead. Or you might be attending a street parade, experiencing the Chinese food, music, performance and culture of your local area. Public celebrations of Chinese New Year are popular in many of Aotearoa New Zealand’s major cities, with people of different ages and ethnicities participating in Chinese culture.
The Year of the Dragon is a particularly fortuitous one. Those who are born under this zodiac sign are said to be charismatic, powerful, and naturally lucky. It’s said that their disposition naturally draws them towards leadership, and thus enjoy success, wealth, and prosperity. These are often seen as ideal traits in Chinese culture, with many people favouring the year of the dragon for making important life decisions. In fact, there is often a baby boom amongst Chinese populations during Dragon years, with families hoping that their ‘dragon babies’ will enjoy their innate luck.
The dragon is important both as a Zodiac animal and as a piece of cultural iconography. An ancient Chinese folk tale explains the placement of the Zodiac as a ‘Great Race’, with all the creatures competing to be first. While versions differ, all tales feature the dragon’s flight being delayed by some good deed ‒ in a popular version, it helps villagers by bringing them rain, and blows the stranded Rabbit safely to shore, making it come fifth. With such a combination of virtuousness and power, it’s no wonder that dragons often feature at the forefront of new year celebrations.
Click here to see the 2024 Year of the Dragon numbered gold-foiled sheets.
Date of issue: 6 December 2023