The Year of the Rabbit has come to an end. However, the Chinese are already busy celebrating the impending beginning of the New Year — the Year of the Dragon.
According to Chinese culture, the dragon — representing power and strength — is the most powerful animal in the Chinese zodiac.
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The Year 2012 is the 4709th Chinese year. The Chinese believe that the first king of China was the Yellow King (he was not the first emperor of China). The Yellow King became king in 2697 B.C., therefore China will enter the 4709th year on January 23, 2012. Also, the Chinese Year uses the cycle of 60 Stem-Branch counting systems and the Black Water Dragon is the 28th Stem-Branch in the cycle. Since (60 *78) + 29 = 4709, therefore 2012 is the Water Dragon year, which is the 4709th Chinese Year.
Some web sites say the year 2012 is the 4710th Chinese year. If you cannot find the explanation as to why, here is a possible answer for you. The Yellow King’s inauguration was held in the spring of 2697 B.C. But the day that was used as the first day of the year was the winter solstice, which was around December 23rd, 2698 B.C. Today’s January 1st meant nothing to the Yellow King. If we count that extra eight days in 2698 B.C., then year 2012 is the 4710th Chinese year.
2012 is the year of Dragon. Some people say 2012 is a Black Dragon or Water Dragon year. This is because the Stem-Branch Calendar is connected to the Five Element theory. Chinese calendars used the Stem-Branch system to count the days, months and years. There are 10 Stems and 12 Branches in this system. Stems are named by the Yin-Yang and Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth).
Yang Wood, Yin Wood, Yang Fire, Yin Fire, Yang Earth, Yin Earth, Yang Metal, Yin Metal, Yang Water and Yin Water.
Branches use animal names. Rat, Cow, Tiger, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Chicken, Dog and Pig. Stem and Branch are used together to form a cycle of 60 counting systems which begin with Wooden Rat and end with Water Pig. From 1924 to 1983 is a complete cycle. Year 2012 is Male Water Dragon the 29th of the Stem-Branch in the system. Because Water is connected to Black in the Five-Element system, Year 2012 is also called the Black Dragon year.
|A dragon is a legendary creature. All legendary stories about Chinese dragons are from the sky, which means heaven in China. The image of dragon is blurred, misty, mystic, occulted, noble and untouchable. For China, it is the symbol of power from heaven. The Chinese emperor was considered the son of heaven. An emperor has the authority to send command to Dragons. One Chinese story mentioned an emperor killed a dragon in his dream. After 581 AD, Chinese emperors began to wear imperial robes with dragon symbols. During the Ching Dynasty(1644-1911 AD), the dragon can be seen everywhere on the roofs, doors, pillars, bridges, utensils in the forbidden city. The most powerful dragon is the five-clawed dragon. It appears only on the yellow imperial robe. Because of this, the Dragon is one of most auspicious animals in China.They say that Dragon has nine sons. People didn’t know too much about the Nine Dragons until the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD). However, there is more than one version of the Nine Dragons story. One story is the following.The Dragon sent its nine sons to help the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty to conquer China. After completing the mission, the nine dragons were preparing their journey to return to heaven. But the emperor wanted them to continue to help the Ming Dynasty. The nine dragons wouldn’t stay and the emperor couldn’t stop them. However, the emperor decided to play a trick on the most powerful dragon, the 6th son. He tricked the sixth dragon son to carry a magic stele with a carved inscription, which could suppress any ghost, spirit or evil creature. The 6th dragon couldn’t move under the magic stele, and all of his other brothers wouldn’t leave without him. However, they wouldn’t work for the emperor anymore. They decided to no longer show their dragon identities and turned themselves into evil creatures. Since then, the nine dragons have stayed in China.|
The nine dragon have different themes, and they all have different versions too. One version is:
- The 1st son loves music. The head of Number 1 son becomes a decoration for music instrument, such as two-stringed bowed violin (huqin).
- The 2nd son loves fighting. Many different handles of weapons have the symbol of Number 2 son.
- The 3rd son loves adventure and keeping guard. He has prestige and is the symbol of safety, harmony and peace.
- The 4th son loves howling. The image of Number 4 son can be found on the big bells. It is a symbol of protection and alertness.
- The 5th son loves quietness, sitting, fire and smoke. His image is often found in temples, such as on incense burners.
- The 6th son has the power of strength. He loves to carry heavy stuff to show off his magic energy. He is a symbol of longevity and good luck.
- The 7th son loves to seek justice. Chinese like to apply his symbol around law, court, or jail.
- The 8th son loves literature. Chinese like to put the 8th son as a symbol around steles. When used in this way, it is a symbol of knowledge or education.
- The 9th son loves water. He is a symbol to prevent fire disasters.
There is a famous peerless Nine Dragons Painting by Chen Rong from the Sung Dynasty (1127-1279). Nine is the highest digit and stands for top rank. Nine is also related to the sky in I-Ching. That’s why the imperial robes of Ching Dynasty have nine dragons on it.
There are nine dragons engraved on the wall and ground in the Forbidden City in Beijing, the imperial palace of Ching Dynasty.
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Well that should give you a better understanding of todays celebration! Have a great New Year, Joe