Lunar New Year 2024: The Year of the Dragon Ushers in Era of Ambition, Generosity & Confidence

  • (L to R) Students Gabriel Contreras of CTVA, Axel Angeles of Exercise Science, Laila Harrison of Theatre, and Samuel Stermer of Screenwriting hold Lunar New Year Fai Chun featuring Chinese calligraphy with blessings at California State University, Northridge in Los Angeles, California, Saturday, February 3, 2024. (Ringo Chiu / CSUN)

  • Matadors Osvaldo Rojas (L) of Chemistry, and Ernesto Gutierrez (R) of Biochemistry, celebrate at California State University, Saturday, February 3, 2024. (Ringo Chiu / CSUN)

  • CSUN's Matty Matador rings in the Year of the Dragon with a sign that reads, "Academic Progress," at California State University, Northridge, Saturday, February 3, 2024. (Ringo Chiu / CSUN)

  • Matadors Uucle Yoz (L) of Business Management, and Brad Nathan of Real Estate commemorate the start of the Year of the Dragon at California State University, Northridge, Saturday, February 3, 2024. (Ringo Chiu / CSUN)

  • CSUN students Hojun Lee of Recreation and Tourism Management, and Annabelle Cabato of Pre-Accounting celebrate Lunar New Year at California State University, Northridge, Saturday, February 3, 2024. (Ringo Chiu / CSUN)

Lunar New Year is estimated to be celebrated by approximately 2 billion people worldwide, including many students, faculty and alumni within the CSUN community. Matadors share how they plan to celebrate and which traditions they find most significant as the Year of the Rabbit ends and they look ahead to a new year.

When Is Lunar Year 2024?

Lunar New Year dates vary each year and take place between Jan. 21 through Feb. 20. The first new moon of the lunar calendar kicks off the celebrations, and they culminate on the first full moon of the lunar calendar.

This year, Lunar New Year occurs on Saturday, Feb. 10.

The holiday, which is now recognized as an official California state holiday, is referred to by a variety of names depending on location. In China, it is known as the Spring Festival or Chūnjié in Mandarin. In Korea, the celebration is called Seollal, and in Vietnam, the celebration is referred to as Tết.

Lunar New Year consists of a 12-year repeating cycle of animal signs — Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig — and many believe the animal sign of the year someone is born possesses ascribed attributes.

This year marks The Year of the Dragon.

Festivities during Lunar New Year may include fireworks, lanterns, candles, performances and parades, depending on the country and region.

Another Lunar New Year tradition that is customary in Chinese and various Southeast Asian cultures is the giving of red packets or envelopes, known as hóngbāo in Mandarin. The envelope contains a monetary gift meant to symbolize a prosperous year ahead. Often, elders gift the envelopes to children or grandchildren, but friends and colleagues also partake in this custom. In addition to Lunar New Year, the tradition is also used to celebrate births and weddings.

Which Lunar Year Traditions are most meaningful to CSUN Faculty and Students?

Asian American Studies professor Gina Masequesmay — who notes there are many different traditions among the various countries and regions that celebrate — shares some of her most meaningful events that take place during the celebration.

“Family (extended) gathering with lots of food and well-wishes on the first day,” she said. “It’s also a chance for relationship renewal or begin anew. Second day is with more distant relatives and friends. Third day is spread goodwill outward to every living being, including animals and plants.” Adding, “Gathering of family members before the new year and cooking a feast is memorable. New clothes, clean house, full of food.”

Graduate student Crystal Chwierut, who is pursuing a master’s in Elementary Education (Curriculum and Instruction), also stressed the importance of connecting with family.

“A reunion dinner is when the whole family comes together to celebrate the new year together. The new year is all about welcoming in the new and the hope for a prosperous future, so there’s nothing like sharing that hope and excitement with the people that you’re closest to,” she shared.

The recent passing of a family member caused her family to alter their tradition.

 “This used to be my favorite tradition, but since my grandpa died two years ago, we’ve added a new step to our celebrations. It’s customary to bring your deceased loved one’s offerings when you visit them, especially for the new year,” Crystal said. “A day before Lunar New Year begins, we go to the cemetery and bring offerings (oranges/tangerines, favorite drinks and foods) and take incense to burn. We go a day before as a way to our grandpa ‘eat before us’ as a way to show respect. It’s a nice way to pay our respects and still feel connected to him.”

Masequesmay also noted the new year is an important time for those who are spiritual.

“For the religious, it’s also fun to go to church or temples. At temples, there’s a practice of oracle reading (Central Viet Nam tradition) or fortune telling (all Buddhist temples),” she explained.

 What Can Matadors Expect from The Year of The Dragon — If They Believe in Horoscopes?

 The Dragon represents the fifth animal in the 12-year cycle. Many believe dragons are known for their power, energy and leadership. Those born under this sign are believed to be ambitious, charismatic, and inspiring, often taking on leadership roles with confidence. With a blend of goal-oriented drive and romantic idealism, Dragons are said to possess a keen sense of self, making them magnetic personalities in both social and professional settings.

Crystal is looking forward to The Year of The Dragon and all the possibilities that might be in store.

“The Year of the Dragon is exciting because out of all twelve of the animals, the dragon is seen as the luckiest and most powerful,” she added. “This year is supposed to be a good time to explore new opportunities and grow.”

 The next Year of The Dragon is not until 2036 — it’s time to make the most of everything the year ahead has to offer!

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