Chinese New Year – Year of the Dragon

In Chinese tradition, each year is dedicated to a specific animal. The Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Rat, Boar, Rabbit, Dog, Rooster, Ox, Tiger, Snake, and Ram are the twelve animals that are part of this tradition. In 2012, the Dragon is welcomed back after the 2011 year of the Rabbit. Each of these animals are thought to bestow their characteristics to the people born in their year.

While the Year of the Rabbit was characterized by calm and tranquility, the Year of the Dragon will be marked by excitement, unpredictability, exhilaration and intensity. The Rabbit imbues people with a sense of cautious optimism, but people respond to the spirit of the Dragon with energy, vitality and unbridled enthusiasm, often throwing all caution to the wind – the Dragon is all about drama.

Washington, DC celebrates this Dragon Chinese New Year with a Chinese New Year Parade, Chinese Dragon Dances, live musical performances, and more. The Chinese New Year is a 15-day event that starts with the New Moon on the first day of the new year and ends on the full moon 15 days later. The first day of the year can fall anywhere between late January and the middle of February. The celebration includes dedicating each year to a specific animal. The Dragon, Horse, Monkey, Rat, Boar, Rabbit, Dog, Rooster, Ox, Tiger, Snake, and Ram are the twelve animals that are part of this tradition.

In 2012, on the Western calendar, the start of the New Year falls on January 23rd. During this important celebration in the Asian culture, it is traditional to wear red, meant to ward off evil spirits.

Here is a schedule of special events in the Washington, DC area:

•Chinese New Year Parade and Festival in Washington, DC
January 29, 2012, 2 – 5 p.m., Giant Firecracker set off at 3:45 p.m. Chinatown – on H Street, NW, between 6th and 8th Streets. Each year a parade is held in Chinatown to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The event features the traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Kung Fu demonstrations and live musical entertainment. See photos of the Chinese New Year Parade.

Celebrate from 12-5 p.m. at the Chinatown Lunar New Year Festival, Chinatown Community Cultural Center, 616 H Street, NW Washington, DC. Programs and activities will include: live music and dance performances, traditional Chinese calligraphy, children’s crafts, face painting, tai chi and kung fu demonstrations, lion dancing, poetry readings, film screenings, art and photo exhibits, raffle prizes, New Year souvenirs, free giveaways, and much more. Special guest performances by: Wong People and students of Yu Ying Public Charter School.

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