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Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

Serving the Fullerton Community Since 1922

The Hornet

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Year of the Dragon, All Year Long

The dragon is the only mythological creature on the Chinese Zodiac and represents wealth, power and good luck.
Rebecca Ramirez
(Illustration by Rebecca Ramirez)

In Southeast and Eastern Asia, Lunar New Year is the most popular celebration, and it has been continuously practiced in the U.S. This year marks the second annual Lunar New Year event hosted by Fullerton College, reflecting an increased focus on Asian cultures since the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American (APIDA) association was formed in 2022. 

As Lunar New Year celebrations unfold on campus, the spotlight not only illuminates the vibrant festivities but also the profound symbolism of the Year of the Dragon. The 2024 celebration was widely celebrated because it welcomed the dragon, one of the most complex symbols in Chinese mythology. Even though the Lunar New Year kicked off in January, people of all cultures continue to celebrate the Year of the Dragon year-round because of its significance in many cultures and communities like Fullerton College.  

The Chinese Zodiac represents a 12-year cycle of the Chinese calendar which can be traced back to the 14th century B.C. The creatures—rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig—represent personalities and predictions of actions. Millions of Chinese people believe in this form of astrology today and have used it as a guide to form their relationships with others. 

According to the “Handbook of Chinese Horoscopes” by Theodora Lau and Laura Lau, the dragon is the only mythological and legendary creature out of the 12 animals on the wheel, representing fertility and natural male vigor. The dragon is known to be skilled at creating plans and working well with others. People born during this year are said to be too hard on themselves and will always try to make peace with their mistakes. In addition to their intelligence and work ethic, they have remarkable qualities such as charm and eloquence. The dragon serves as a symbol for wealth, power and good luck. This unifying symbol is not only celebrated in Chinese culture but in Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia.  

The most famous way the year of the dragon is celebrated is through the traditional dragon dance. According to “Hanshu” (汉书), a book about the Han Dynasty, the dragon dance was used to entertain foreign visitors at the Chinese court. Because of the dragon’s luck, it was even performed as a ritual to bring rain to villages in a drought. Traditionally, performers would use a 100-foot-long dragon prop and mimic the dragon’s actions. 

The National Library Board of Singapore states, “Dragon dance performers are usually martial artists or acrobats who are able to move their bodies rhythmically and synchronize their steps so that the dragon appears to move gracefully.” 

Wearing red is another notable way people celebrate the new year. Red is known to ward off evil spirits and is found in lanterns, envelopes, and other decorations. Similarly to the dragon, the color symbolizes good fortune and luck.  

Chui Chin Chang, a professor and adviser to the Chinese Club at Fullerton College, says she celebrated the Year of the Dragon by attending the 125th Golden Dragon parade in Alhambra with the Chinese Club and then celebrating the Lunar New Year with her family. 

“Chinese New Year was always a special time of year in China,” says Chang. “We would always treat the Lunar New Year like Christmas Eve, a big time of the year to be festive with traditions and cook lots of delicious food. It’s a trend where we don’t go out on new year, because it’s family reunion time. We cook together, we eat together.” 

The beginning of the Lunar New Year is not the only time to celebrate the Year of the Dragon. One way to celebrate all year long is to try new food. According to Chang, certain foods symbolize what the dragon represents. 

“We eat certain food like fish, and the next day we still have many fish to eat. We eat the remaining fish for surplus, then eat a new year cake called Nian Goa for promotion and a tangerine for good luck,” says Chang. 

The Year of the Dragon is not just about dancing, food or envelopes filled with money. It serves as a way for Asian Americans to celebrate their cultural identity and bring unity amongst everybody. Anyone can join in and celebrate this year of prosperity and good fortune.  


Famous People Born on the Year of the Dragon
  1. Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929)
  2. John Lennon (October 9, 1940)
  3. Bruce Lee (November 27, 1940)
  4. Shakira (February 2, 1977)
  5. Rihanna (February 20, 1988)


Taken from the Summer 2024 print issue of Inside Fullerton. Read it here.

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About the Contributor
Melanie White
Melanie White, Staff Writer
Melanie is a journalism major, who is working on improving her writing skills. When she’s not suffering from writer's block, she likes drawing animals, listening to Porter Robinson songs, taking hikes and reading books like "Lord of the Flies." She plans on working as a technical writer or copywriter in the future.

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