The Chinese lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon, began Monday and was celebrated in Asian communities around the world. So what does "Year of the Dragon" mean?
In Chinese astrology, the dragon is the most powerful and auspicious of the 12 signs of the zodiac, one associated with high energy, prosperity and change. This year is considered especially lucky because it is the year of the water dragon, something that only happens once every 60 years.
In general, Chinese astrologists like what they see.
A Taoist priest said, "The dragon year is a year of luck, growth and prosperity. The dragon represents the sky and moving up, just like this flame."
In a dragon year, he said, business will be good and money will come easily. And given our economy, that wouldn't be a bad thing. Fortunes as well as disaster will come in massive waves. This could be a year typically marked with a lot of surprises and violent acts of nature.
Tempers will flare the world over, and political change is always expected.
The Taoist priest said 2012 will definitely have its challenges, but fear not -- it's a water dragon year. The difference? The water will help cool and at least temper things down.
Happy Chinese New Year!
(NOTE: Seattle holds its annual lunar New Year festival this Saturday. For more information about it, click here.)