Chinese New Year: The Year of the Dragon


Xin Nián Kuài Lè – Happy New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cái – Congratulations and Prosperity!

The above are the common well wishes you hear and are exchanged among those celebrating the Chinese New Year. The Year of the Dragon arrives on January 23rd and will last for fifteen days.

This year we celebrate the 5th animal to arrive at the Jade Emperor’s party (as Chinese folklore tells it), the intensely powerful and revered dragon—the mythical animal that delivers good fortune. 2012 is the year of the Water Dragon.

According to the Hsia calendar (the Farmer’s Calendar), 2012 is symbolized by two elements, water sitting on the earth, representing conflict, but not as much as there was in 2010 and 2011. The yang water symbolizes the oceans, powerful forces over the powerful earth element (Dragon), as well as the traits of generosity, charity, courage, and intelligence. The last time there was yang water sitting on earth (over the Dragon) was in 1952, the year of the Korean War stalemate.

Chinese culture, folklore and tradition hold a very special meaning for our family since two of our children were born in China. We have incorporated it, and those of Guatemala (our son’s birth country) into our family traditions, along with others. We began celebrating the Chinese New Year prior to our oldest daughter arriving home. It is an exciting and reflective time for our family.

So, what does our family typically do during the Chinese New Year? Well, anyone who knows me knows that I try not to clean because I don’t want to sweep out the good spirits. I also don’t wash my hair during the first three days of the New Year (good fortune might be washed out). The kids will have had their haircuts or trims, symbolizing fresh starts. We also decorate the house, being sure to have the couplets, with messages of good fortune, hung by the doors. Long noodles (for a long life) are eaten along with other lucky foods, such as whole fish and mandarin oranges.

The kids delight in passing around and receiving the hong bao (red envelopes filled with money or chocolate coins). The auspicious color red is worn (it scares away Nian, the monster, too). We make lanterns, visit friends to spread good wishes for the coming year, and attend and have celebrations. The kids’ favorite event is the lion dance. The performance is fun and powerful, with the rhythmic beating of the drums. They feed the lion choi chang (greens or cabbage) or hong bao.

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.