The dragon stirs. Gone are the days of winter. The air crackles with the promise of new beginnings, and across the world, celebrations erupt in a symphony of fire, feasts, and family reunions.
The Year of the Dragon is soon upon us, and with it, a world pulsating with the promise of renewal, and the courage to hold the great unknown tight.
Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, starts February 10, 2024. It’s the Year of the Wood Dragon this time, marking a rare combination of the elements anticipated to bring excitement, success, and drama. The Lunar New Year period concludes on February 24.
Chinese New Year is far more than a festive break: it’s celebrated by large Chinese communities worldwide, promoting cultural exchange and understanding.
It bridges Chinese culture and other traditions, sparking curiosity and appreciation for its unique customs and symbolism.
Chinese New Year marks the start of a new year on the lunisolar calendar, symbolising a fresh start and an opportunity to leave behind the burdens of the past year.
Cleaning rituals usher out bad luck and make way for good fortune, while vibrant decorations like red lanterns and papercuts welcome new beginnings with optimism and joy.
The holiday is a time for families to reunite, often travelling long distances to be together. It’s a powerful reminder of the importance of family ties and the legacy passed down through generations.
Ancestral worship rituals pay respect to past generations and acknowledge their role in shaping the present. Food offerings and prayers express gratitude and strengthen the connection between the living and the deceased.
The holiday blends elements of folk religion, Buddhism, and Taoism, with offerings made to deities and mythical creatures believed to bring good luck and ward off evil spirits.
Traditions like red envelopes with lucky money and firecrackers are intended to dispel misfortune and attract prosperity and happiness.
The dragon is significant as a sign of the zodiac and a component of popular culture. An old Chinese folktale describes the Zodiac as a “Great Race,” in which all creatures are vying for the title of first place. All stories have the dragon’s flight being delayed by a good deed, though the details vary.
In a widely accepted version, the dragon assists the people by delivering rain and carries the trapped Rabbit safely to land, placing it in fifth place. Given their formidable strength and virtue, it is understandable that dragons are frequently prominent figures in New Year’s festivities.
In New Zealand, anticipate a variety of New Year events and activities.
New Zealand Post has released a limited-edition numbered and framed gold-foiled miniature sheet collectible to mark the Year of the Dragon.
From the Auckland Lantern Festival to a dragon parade starting from the Dunedin Octagon, a range of events is taking place nationwide. Explore the Chinese New Year festivities happening across the country on VroomVroomVroom’s events page.
In Christchurch, there’s a multitude of activities to engage in, including lantern-making workshops, lion dancing, and mah-jong lessons. Discover more about the Lunar New Year celebrations in Christchurch through the Christchurch City Libraries website.