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Happy Lunar New Year! 5 Things to Know About the Year of the Dragon

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A colorful dragon dances and ushers in the 2014 Chinese New Year in San Francisco.
The Year of the Dragon begins is upon us. Get ready! (Kevin Frates/ Getty Images)

Lunar New Year is upon us, and you might be wondering what the next 12 months have in store for you. It’s not all that surprising if you are — the Year of the Dragon is an attention-seeking little so-and-so.

As we bid farewell to the Year of the Rabbit and usher in the Year of the Dragon, here are five things to keep in mind:

1. In 2024, the Lunar New Year arrives on Feb. 10, tied as always to the date of the second new moon after the winter solstice. Scoff not if you’re a human that doesn’t believe in horoscopes of any kind — Lunar New Year celebrations have been around for thousands of years. It wouldn’t have endured this long in China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines, the Koreas and elsewhere if there wasn’t something to it.

2. The Year of the Dragon promises to bring with it power, strength and dynamism. It’s also a good omen for success and endless possibilities that will spread a little good fortune everyone’s way, regardless of what sign you are personally. (May that bring us all some comfort in this particular election year.)

3. The Year of the Dragon really wants to be acknowledged. Last time it was a dragon year (2012), archeologists in Argentina dug up a giant, 86-million-year-old dragon. Sure, technically, it was a pterosaur, but paleontologists immediately dubbed the flying reptile the “Dragon of Death” (or “Thanatosdrakon Amaru” in Greek), due to its unfeasibly long neck and 30-foot-wide wingspan. All of which was kind of perfect because the Chinese word for dinosaur — “kǒnglóng” — derives from the fact that ancient Chinese people referred to dinosaurs as “terror dragons.” (Just please acknowledge the arrival of the Year of the Dragon so a living one doesn’t show up this time, k?)

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[Update, Feb. 23, 2024: Paleontologists just found another freakin’ dragon! This one is 16 feet long and 240 million years old. Cool, cool. Nothing to see here.]

4. There are many ways to appropriately usher in the Lunar New Year, including joining the celebrations in San Francisco. This year’s parade — part of the most elaborate Chinese New Year party in the country — doesn’t happen until Feb. 24, but if you err on the superstitious side, there are plenty of ways to acknowledge the New Year before that. Here are three possibilities. First, be sure to clean your home more thoroughly than usual before Feb. 10 and avoid cleaning on the day. Second, keep your language positive, avoiding mention of dark subject matter. Third, wear a brand new outfit — or just a new item or two — to usher in good fortune for the rest of the year. (Red items are favored. Avoid black and white.) And, just for the sake of deliciousness, don’t forget the tangyuan soup!

5. Unsurprisingly, for those born in a dragon year (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024) — already an energetic and powerful bunch — 2024 promises to be particularly auspicious. But for anyone who felt bogged down and frustrated by the soft and slow energy of the Year of the Rabbit for the last 12 months, the Dragon offers some relief. Where the Rabbit gently requested we all stop and take stock, the Dragon has no qualms about kicking you up the butt to get you sprinting back towards your goals.

Happy Lunar New Year, everybody! And nián nián yǒuyú.

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