Year of the Dragon: Everything You Need to Know
Did you know the dragon is the only mythological creature on the Chinese zodiac? That makes it extra special. Learn more about this fifth sign of the Chinese zodiac, what's in store for the upcoming year, and other ways dragons are significant in Chinese culture.
When is the Year of the Dragon?
The Year of the Dragon starts Feb. 10, 2024 and lasts until until Jan. 28, 2025. Since the Lunar New Year follows the, you guessed it, lunar calendar, the dates according to the solar or Gregorian calendar (the one most commonly used) shift every year. And because the Chinese zodiac runs on a 12-year cycle, your animal comes up every dozen years.
Not sure if you’re the Year of the Dragon? Check out our handy zodiac chart.
The dragon's personality
People born in dragon years are thought to be charismatic, intelligent, confident, and natural-born leaders. But they can also be thought of as aggressive and not open to criticism.
What else does the dragon mean in Chinese culture?
While dragons in Western culture are often depicted as ferocious fire-breathers, in Chinese culture they're wise and benevolent. Representing strength and prosperity, they were believed to control water phenomena, from rain to typhoons to floods, and to live at the bottom of bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and the sea.
Chinese myth goes on to say that four Dragon Kings ruled each of the Four Seas, and are connected with a different color, direction, and season. The Blue or Azure Dragon is the God of the East, patron of the East China Sea, and the essence of spring. The Red Dragon is the God of the South, the essence of summer, and the patron of the South China Sea.
Meanwhile the Black Dragon rules the north and is the essence of winter. Lake Baikal in Siberia is his body of water. Finally, the White Dragon is the God of the West, essence of autumn, and patron of Qinghai Lake, the largest lake in China.
Learn even more about dragons in Chinese culture.
What's up for 2024?
When your animal year comes up in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac, that’s called ben ming nian. During that time, it’s believed that you’re more vulnerable to adversity.
For this year, dragons are advised to wear red and purple to keep luck on their side. They should also hang out with those born in rat, monkey, and rooster years — they may bring you luck or valuable info!
Were you born in a dragon year? So was action star legend Bruce Lee (and his son Brandon coincidentally!), Studio Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl's Moving Castle), Oscar winner Haing S. Ngor (The Killing Fields), Hong Kong icon Maggie Cheung (In the Mood for Love), and all-time favorite hometown girl Awkwafina (The Farewell, Quiz Lady, Crazy Rich Asians).
Other dragons include the "Eternal Queen of Asian pop" Teresa Teng, acclaimed authors Bharati Mukherjee and Amy Tan, groundbreaking scientist David Ho, entrepreneur Jack Ma, and at least two Olympic athletes, figure skater Chen Lu and snowboarder Chloe Kim.Want to learn about the other Chinese zodiac animals? Check out our posts on the rabbit, tiger, ox, rat, dog, and pig, as well as everything Lunar New Year.