So here we are, the Year of the Dragon. And I am surrounded by them – sort of. The Chinese New Year started on January 23rd, and will last for two weeks. Every year I jump on the bandwagon and bombard my Chinese friend with endless questions about traditional Chinese New Year practices: what foods are eaten (my fave) and the zodiac signs. I have known her for a few years, so she puts up with me – patiently.
Not only did her birthday fall on the first day of Chinese New Year this year (lucky girl – I guess that means double the luck!), but her zodiac sign is the dragon, a sign shared by my youngest son. Sadly, my other son and I are pigs – I’m not sure if I should be bragging about that.
It is said that those born under the powerful sign of the dragon are thought to be dominating and ambitious, energetic and warm-hearted. Driven and unafraid of challenges, ‘dragons’ are willing to take risks and are lucky in love.
Hospitals in China are already over-booked with mothers anxious to have their little ‘dragons’ born during this great year.
As for us ‘pigs,’ we are thought to be extremely nice, good mannered and compassionate: helping others and being good companions is what we are known for.
Hmm…maybe it’s not so bad being a pig, after all!
But back to the dragons…
All this talk about dragons these days has had me thinking. Those mythical creatures have been brought to life on the big screen and in books time and time again. DragonHeart (1996 movie), took place in the year 984 in England with knights and Saxons running hitherto with their swords. How to Train a Dragon (2010 movie based off a book by Cressida Cowell) took place in the times of the Vikings and their funny hats.
Fictional worlds such as that of the 2006 movie, Eragon, as well as the real/fantasy world of the Harry Potter series, has young boys face to face with dragons.
The Chronicles of Narnia (a book and movie) and Shrek (movie) both have dragons, good and bad, making their way into the hearts of readers and viewers.
In both the fantasy and romance sections of modern bookstores, shelves are lined with tales of men and women living with, and learning to live with, dragons. Katie MacAlister is one of many modern authors who have delved into the worlds of these creatures. Stories heralding dragons date back as far as The Argonautica, a Greek poem by Apollonius Rhodius in the 3rd century, BC, where a dragon guarding the magical Golden Fleece is put to sleep so the fleece can be stolen.
Through stories in poems, books and movies, the fate of dragons over the centuries has been tumultuous. Men and women, young and old, have fought, saved or befriended dragons. And very often the ones that were thought of evil were not so bad after all. All they needed was just a little patience and understanding.
But at the end of the day, if you are on the verge of being gobbled up by a dragon, his fire singeing your neck hairs, ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Pull out your sword, and be done with ‘im.
In my quest for more dragons, I went hunting on a windy day in historic Chinatown in Victoria, BC. And low and behold, I found Dragon Alley. I ventured into the alley, and made a quick exit as wind rushing between the narrow brick walls sounded like a low growl. A dragon slayer, I am not.
So this year, if you find yourself in the bowels of middle earth wearing a Viking hat, brandishing a sword, answering to a weird name like Fraindelöng, all while trying to outrun a dragon, remember - this the Year of the Dragon. They should be revered and praised, for in the Chinese culture this is to be a year of good luck, good health, and better fortunes.
Gung Hay Fat Choy!