Chinese New Year 2012 begins Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, and will usher in the Year of the Dragon. Celebrations have been held for the two weeks leading up to Jan. 23 as revelers from Hong Kong to San Francisco geared up for the most important holiday in the Chinese cultural tradition. However, the event has become a multicultural affair, celebrated many nationalities.
The Chinese New Year is symbolized by a new animal zodiac, determined by a 12-year cycle. Last year was the Year of the Rabbit. But 2012 welcomes a more commanding beast -- the Dragon.
Who is the Dragon?
The Dragon is anything but a formidable foe in Chinese culture. Unlike the demon that gets slayed in Western literature, the Dragon is a symbol of good fortune and intense power in Eastern culture. In Chinese tradition, the Dragon is regarded as a divine beast.
According to Sung dynasty manuscripts, the Dragon is described as having the "head of an ox or donkey, eyes of a shrimp, horns of a deer, body of a serpent covered with fish scales, and a feet of a phoenix," and it usually clutches a pearl, meant to symbolize its supernatural powers.
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The Year of the Dragon is one of the most revered years of the Chinese New Year calendar, and those born under the sign are regarded as innovative, passionate people who are colorful, confident and fearless.
The Manila Bulletin cites that the Dragon is sometimes called a "karmic sign." The Dragon is larger than life and its appearance means that big things are to come. The Year of the Dragon is a flowing river, not a stagnant lake, so things happen quickly earlier in the year. The Dragon marks progression, perseverance and auspiciousness. It may also bring about unpredictable events.
The five Chinese elements are Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. The Dragon is made of Earth, Water and Wood. The Chinese New Year 2012 will primarily be a water year. This could mean riches and abundance or it could mean natural disaster.
Hong Kong astrologer Alion Yeo said the world should prepare for storms and floods. "Expect to see a lot of flooding in areas like Thailand and Southeast China," he said. "Indonesia, Pakistan, India and places in China like Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou are particularly disaster-prone. They are likely to experience frequent earthquakes."
Earth elements prosper from Water. So if an individual has a strong Earth-related sign, then he or she will have the opportunity to make money in 2012. This year can also be prosperous for those with Metal and Wood-related signs. However, Wood signs must mind their words and actions as an unsavory reputation looms this year.
Water is not a good omen for Fire signs, as Fire fears water. Fire signs must be mindful of their personal safety, conservation efforts and exhibiting patience in 2012. However, female Fire signs could see blossoming social relationships in the Year of the Dragon, including romantic ones.
Predictions for the Year of the Dragon
As cultures gear up for the start of the Chinese New Year on Monday, astrologers and geomancers have made their predictions for what is to come in 2012. Some see promise, others see demise.
"The world economy will be unstable in the Year of the Dragon, because the economies in Europe and the U.S. are still suffering from the effects of the recession," Hong Kong Feng Shui master Anthony Cheng said.
Celebrity astrologer Peter So said the U.S. will bear good news late in the year, but Europe will still struggle. "Europe will not recover so soon -- it is expected to suffer at least until 2014. But what I can say is this, a recovery for the U.S. economy is possible in 2013," he said.
So has not offered a prediction for the U.S. presidential victor in 2012. He would need precise information on their birth dates and times. "Sometimes luck depends on the country itself, rather than an individual president," he said.
However, So does believe that the U.S. will have luck on its side in the Year of the Dragon.
"For the U.S., they are starting to have luck on their side again, so it is going to be a good year no matter who's elected."
For investors prepared to "ride the Dragon," astrologers believe that investing in Russia or China is the best bet. However, China might pose a volatile threat with its upcoming eighteenth Congressional election.
"In the second half of the year, a scandalous corruption case will be exposed in China," warned Cheng. "I can also predict that in Hong Kong and in mainland China, a number of high-ranking officials will be forced to step down. Some may be thrown behind bars, or even pass away."
Feng Shui, the ancient study of the forces of chi, is taken very seriously in the Chinese culture. Each year, one of China's largest brokerage firms, Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia (CLSA), releases a Feng Shui Index offering "predictions" for global markets that year. Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia admits that Feng Shui's "original purpose was to locate auspicious burial spots, not call the twists and turns of the equity markets or individual sectors."