Lunar New Year 2024: The Dragon and Color

The dragon is a magnificent creature which plays a huge role in the traditions of Lunar New Year.
Chen Rong Nine Dragons

The dragon is a magnificent creature which plays a huge role in the traditions of Lunar New Year. Besides being the only mythical creature in the Zodiac roster, the Year of the Dragon always sparks massive increases in birth rates. With his auspicious nature and strength, everyone wants their child to be a dragon.

The Beast

The tale of the dragon begins with a village. Nian was a monster who lived at the bottom of the sea and came out on the last night of the Lunar Year to terrorize the village. But one man, and older man with silver hair, would not back down. Instead of hiding for the night, he stood his ground, setting off fireworks and dressed in red. The monster was terrified and ran away. The man shared his tactics with the village, and so began the tradition of setting off fireworks, dressing in red, and decorating the home with red decorations – all the ward off the dreaded Nian.

The Zodiac

When the Great Race was held by the Jade Emperor the dragon was one of the twelve animals invited to participate. He arrived fifth, to the surprise of the Jade Emperor who knew he could have won. When asked why he did not arrive first, the dragon explained that he was delayed trying to make rain for the people and creatures of the world.

The Dragon is a symbol of strength, confidence, and success. People born in the year of the dragon are said to be confident and ambitious with tons of charisma. There is an expectation that dragons will be successful in their lives, and this it is a very auspicious year for birthing children. The dragon is lucky and intelligent, but also suffers through his own arrogance. They can also be irritable and struggle to accept defeat.

A massive dragon lantern from the Snug Harbor Culture Center and Botanical Garden from a Lunar New Year Celebration on Staten Island in 2019.

The Colors of Lunar New Year

When you think of Lunar New Year, red and gold or yellow likely come to mind. That is because these colors are a vital part of celebrating the new year and bringing luck and prosperity to your life. Color is a hugely important aspect of the new year, with colors like red and gold signifying luck while other colors should be avoided.

Red

Red is a color that signifies luck. Vitality and celebration. The color is frequently used in celebrations, none more prevalent than during the Lunar New Year. It is the color of the lanterns that light the sky, the envelopes that carry money to bring wealth into the new year, and the clothes and decorations we use to celebrate.

Yellow and Gold

Yellow and gold are associated with wealth and prosperity. Everyone wants a prosperous year, and these colors bring a sense of monetary success. Yellow is also a powerful color, signifying royalty and prestige.

Green (or Blue)

Green is the color of health, fertility, and harmony. It also represents purity and cleanliness. Green is a frequent color in nature, thus representing the organic world. Green is a wonderful color for the New Year but avoid green hats which can symbolize an unfaithful spouse.

Blue has similar meaning to green and is also seen as a color to bring health into the new year.

Red and Gold adorn just about everything, including red envelopes and candies.

Colors to Avoid

White

White is associated with mourning, death and funerals. It is the color most closely associated with death in Chinese society and is therefore seen as an unlucky color for the new year.

Black

While there are some good qualities of black and it is not as unlucky as white, black is also seen as a color for mourning and death. It is also associated with secrecy, which brings bad habits into the new year.


As we enter into this new year on the lunar calendar, remember to bring yourself luck and prosperity with color. I wish you all success and good fortune in this Year of the Dragon!

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K. Straub-Kuo

K has been writing since she was in middle school. She has always loved telling stories and loves to do research on topics that fascinate her even more. K developed an interest in cultures at an early age, but it wasn't until high school that she became fascinated with East Asia's rich cultural heritage that blends seamlessly with the rapid advancements that cause their cities to thrive. Her interest only grew more when she met her Taiwanese-Native husband, whose expansive travel experiences have encouraged her wanderlust. She takes every opportunity presented to her to try something new and is always thrilled to share her experiences with her readers.
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11 Day Back roads of Japan Tour with Project Expedition

***Note: meals are largely excluded on this tour and are the responsibility of tour members***

Days 1-2: Tokyo

There is no itinerary upon arrival until the welcome meeting which will take place in the evening. The first day will consist of learning more about your tour and meeting your guides. Day two is a walking tour of the fashion district of Harajuku. This eclectic district is popular for its eccentric fashion and youth culture. In the afternoon you will get a chance to visit Sensoji Temple, Meiji Shrine, and the surrounding attractions. 

Day 3: Nagano

You will take Japan’s famed bullet train to Nagano before checking into your accommodations. The highlight of this trip is the Jigokudani Monkey Park, where you will get to observe Japan’s bathing snow monkeys enjoying a bath in the natural hot springs.

Day 4: Matsumoto/Nagano

Enjoy a day trip to visit one of Japan’s most beloved castles: Matsumoto Castle. Afterwards, return to Nagano to venture off to Zenkoji Temple, one of Japan’s last standing pilgrimage sties. 

Day 5: Ōtsu 

Travel in the morning to Ōtsu for some stunning views of Japan’s largest lake: Lake Biwa. Top off the night with a delicious ramen dinner. 

Day 6-7: Hagi

Enjoy a quick breakfast before an extended drive to Hagi. You will then check into your local homestay. Pack for two nights as your remaining luggage will be sent to the next destination by your tour company. Make sure you pack comfortably for outdoor activities. This is a chance to experience life like a local as you meet your host family and take part in a welcome ceremony and dinner. 

Day two is an active day as you take a guided cycle tour around Hagi Castle. Afterward, you will have time to participate in seasonal activities with the locals. You will enjoy a homecooked dinner with your host family.

Day 8-9: Tottori

After breakfast with your host family, take a scenic trip by train on your way to Mihomisumi. There, enjoy learning the art of Washi paper making before hopping on another train to Tottori. 

In the morning, explore the unusual Tottori Sand Dunes along the Sea of Japan’s coastline. After that, make your way to the local fish market for some fantastic seafood lunch options. End the day with a trip to Kyoto to check in to your accommodations. 

Days 10-11: Kyoto

Take a morning trip to the well-known Fushimi Inari-Taisha, one of Kyoto’s many beautiful local shrines. This is where you will find the mystical  trail of torii gates along its trails. After this, you will have free time to explore what Kyoto has to offer. Recommended sites include a walk through the geisha district of Gion, exploration of Kinkaku-ji Golden Pavilion, and a visit to Kiyomizu Temple. 

The next day marks the end of the tour. Public transit is available to the airport, or you can speak to your guide to help find accommodations if you wish to extend your stay. 

Sample of an 11-Day Intrepid Tour

Days 1-2: Taipei City

Take the first day to relax and unwind after your travels before joining your group for dinner. After a good night’s sleep, enjoy learning about Taiwan’s love of sweet potatoes at Sweet Potato Mama for some spud-filled activities. Check out Shilin Night Market to enjoy Taipei’s variable food culture.

Days 2-3: Hualien

Enjoy nature at Danong Dafu Forest Park before spending the evening enjoying even more street food at the local night markets (you may have noticed a trend). Visit Qingshui cliff before venturing off to the famous Taroko Gorge.

Day 5: Yilan

Visit one of Yilan’s well-known onion farms to learn about the agriculture behind them before learning to make a Taiwanese favorite: scallion pancakes!

Day 6: Turtle Island and Jiufen

Set out on a 3-hour cruise around Turtle Island before travelling off to Jiufen, famed by Hayao Miyazaki as the inspiration for Spirited Away. You will be able to explore Old Street on your own. My suggestion: Eat everything ,try lots of samples, and make time for tea at the famous Teahouse.

Days 7-8: Sun Moon Lake

You’ll get to hike from the base of the mountainous area through the trails that snake up the mountain. You can then climb the Pagoda which marks the end of your trek for some incredible views. The next day you will get to explore the Chung Tai Chan Monastery for a unique, cross-cultural experience.

Day 9: Taichung

Visit Taiwan’s “Breadbasket”, where you can go oyster picking, bird watching, and exploring the water-life of the area. Try some incredible seafood and maybe even go out after returning to you accommodations near — Oh look, it’s near another night market!

Days 10-11: Taipei

Visit the Rainbow Village before heading back to the city you started in. You’ll get to see the massive collection of traditional art and artifacts contained within the National Palace Museum before taking the evening for yourself. After breakfast in the morning,  Your tour will end.