- By Vinson Chao Yu
Time is flying by; the Year of the Rabbit is nearly over, and the Year of the Dragon is just around the corner.
Beginning on February 10, 2024, the dragon year is considered one of the luckiest and most influential periods in the Chinese zodiac.
The dragon is one of the oldest symbols in Chinese culture. In ancient times, people respected nature and believed in powerful gods.
So, they created an idol – a dragon – that could control the weather and do magical things.
They worshipped the dragon and asked for safety.
For thousands of years, the dragon has been seen as something mysterious and special becoming a shared totemic symbol revered by the Chinese nation.
While the Chinese zodiac and its associated animal symbols, including the dragon, are unique to Chinese culture, dragons hold significance in the mythologies and folklore of various cultures around the world.
In Eastern cultures beyond China, such as in Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, dragons also play essential roles in folklore and mythology.
The characteristics and symbolism attributed to dragons can vary across these cultures.
In Western cultures, for example, dragons are often depicted as mythical creatures associated with medieval tales, heroic legends and fantasy literature.
They are typically portrayed as large, fire-breathing reptiles.
Song Lam QSM, the Maori culture researcher, delivered an excellent presentation highlighting the similarities between Chinese and Māori Culture.
There are mythical creatures such as Māori Taniwha, which are often depicted as powerful, supernatural beings associated with water.
Though distinct from Chinese dragons, the parallels lie in the reverence for these symbolic creatures, indicating the diversity incorporating mythical beings into their myths and beliefs.
To mark the Year of the Dragon, my idea is to have displayed a dragon kite within the Pakuranga Library.
I garnered support from Jianxin Qi, a Chinese businessman who acquired the kite from Weifang, distinguished as the World Capital of Kites’ city in Shandong.
The province is known for being the hometown of Chinese philosopher Confucius.
Discover a range of programmes and activities commemorating the Lunar New Year at the local libraries with your families.
Stay informed about event details by visiting the Auckland Library’s website or follow your library on Facebook.
Finally, during challenging economic times, amidst frequent disasters and global political uncertainty, my wish is for everyone to embrace a Lunar New Year filled with serenity, joy, and achievement.
- Vinson Chao Yu is a Justice of the Peace and was a Howick 175 Ambassador. He works at Pakuranga Library