Etiquette & superstition: dragons


As I may have noted previously, I think Chinese New Year is a wonderful holiday. So many rituals for so many days. This year is designated not only as the Year of the Dragon, but the Year of the Black Water Dragon, and that sounds pretty tough to me. Graahhh, Black Water Dragon!

ETIQUETTE: Proper decor in the home during New Year celebrations in the Year of the Dragon includes lots of candles. Starfish and octopus motifs are also strongly encouraged this particular year. And use a lot of black. Some people say black and red and green are best, others say black and yellow. Just go with black.

If you yourself are an actual dragon (not just one of those hotshots born during the Year of the Dragon; see below) and have come to this post for some etiquette tips, please allow me to redirect you to Sherri Godsey’s page regarding gullet transport and regurgitation of humans. It is an excellent resource.

SUPERSTITION: All that “Dragon Lady” jazz is a Western construct. In Asia, it is a good thing to be a dragon. Dragons are lucky, have better education and will be very successful in life. This isn’t even a superstition, by the way; they are. There are some rational reasons for that, but whatever.

Dragons, the real dragons, became a little bit of trouble for humans when a Ming Dynasty emperor got all greedy and wanted them to help him out instead of going back to their home in heaven. They, of course, wanted to go back to heaven. No doy. There were nine dragons at this point, who were sons of the original dragon. So anyway, these dragons were a little pissed off at the emperor but eventually chilled out and now are pretty good with humans again, at least in China. I’m probably screwing this up. Let’s just go to chinesefortunecalendar.com for the rest of this:

“The nine dragon have different themes, and they all have different versions too. We skip their names because all of their names are hard to remember. One version is:

  • The 1st son loves music. The head of Number 1 son becomes a decoration for music instrument, such as two-stringed bowed violin (huqin).
  • The 2nd son loves fighting. Many different handles of weapons have the symbol of Number 2 son.
  • The 3rd son loves adventure and keeping guard. He has prestige and is the symbol of safety, harmony and peace.
  • The 4th son loves howling. The image of Number 4 son can be found on the big bells. It is a symbol of protection and alertness.
  • The 5th son loves quietness, sitting, fire and smoke. His image is often found in temples, such as on incense burners.
  • The 6th son has the power of strength. He loves to carry heavy stuff to show off his magic energy. He is a symbol of longevity and good luck.
  • The 7th son loves to seek justice. Chinese like to apply his symbol around law, court, or jail.
  • The 8th son loves literature. Chinese like to put the 8th son as a symbol around steles. When used in this way, it is a symbol of knowledge or education.
  • The 9th son loves water. He is a symbol to prevent fire disasters.”
Photo by tunachilli on Flickr

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