San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Year of the Dragon brings on the heat

Dragons rule the Eastern sky in Chinese astrology. The advent of a year dedicated to the dragon always brings a mix of anticipation and uncertainty.

Monday, Jan. 23, kicks off the Year of the Dragon in the lunar Chinese calendar, which begins on the second new moon following the winter solstice. That lands it anywhere from Jan. 21-Feb. 21 in the Western calendar.

Korea and Vietnam use the same celestial event to mark their new years too: Seollal in the former and Tet in the latter. The term “Chinese New Year” has given way in the West to the more inclusive moniker “Lunar New Year” these days.

The Chinese zodiac follows a 12-year cycle, with each year bearing the name and character of an animal. Tradition holds that people share the personality of the animal representing the year they were born.

According to Chinese astrology, people born during dragon years share the heat, fire and passion of their animal counterparts. Energy, determination and a certain brashness mark their lives.

Costa Rica’s most famous dragon is former President Oscar Arias. Worldwide, notable dragons, present and past, include: Louisa May Alcott, Frankie Avalon, Count Basie, Sarah Bernhardt, Sandra Bullock, Rosemary Clooney, Salvador Dali, Olivia de Havilland, Colin Farrell, Betty Grable, Kirk Douglas, Gustave Eiffel, Friedrich Engels, Glenn Ford, Sigmund Freud, Graham Greene, Che Guevara, Patrick Henry, Immanuel Kant, Helen Keller, Stanley Kubrick, Bruce Lee, John Lennon, Peter Lorre, H.L. Mencken, Pablo Neruda, Czar Nicholas II, Friedrich Nietzsche, Florence Nightingale, Al Pacino, Gregory Peck, Nancy Pelosi, Mary Pickford, Christopher Reeve, Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Isabella Rossellini, George Bernard Shaw, Martin Sheen, Shirley Temple, Andy Warhol, Booker T. Washington, Raquel Welch, Woodrow Wilson and Reese Witherspoon.

Dragon years always follow the methodical, hippity-hoppity Year of the Rabbit. Their palpably increased pace represents a double-edged sword for the other zodiac animals. Finding the proper balance between risk and prudence spells success during this most fiery year of the cycle. (See 2012 Forecast.)

New year celebrations last for two weeks in Asia. Costa Rica’s Asian community generally marks the first day of the year only, and two of central San José’s premier Asian restaurants will hold special events.

Don Wang (Ca. 11, Av. 6/8, 2233-6484, will serve a special menu on Sunday, Jan. 22, along with horoscope readings and dance presentations with a Chinese dragon. Next door, Tin Jo (2221-7605, will hold its new year celebration the following weekend, on Saturday, Jan. 28, with special menus and activities including lion dancers, horoscope readings and origami demonstrations. Reservations are essential at both venues.

2012 Forecast

Rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008): You’re one of nature’s shrewdest animals, so temper your impulses if need be during the wild of the dragon year.

Ox (1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009): As the zodiac’s most plodding, methodical animal, it behooves you to stay true to that pace during the hectic dragon year.

Tiger (1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010): The dragon is your only rival for fierceness among the zodiac animals. Know when to pounce, and when not to.

Rabbit (1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011): Count on your natural agility to keep you out of trouble and you’ll hop through the unpredictable dragon year just fine.

Dragon (1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000): You rock. You rule. This is your year. Dare to take some risks, but don’t let the heat of your own year burn you out.

Snake (1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001): Your natural tendency to strike quickly serves you well during the dragon year, but slither away at the first sign of trouble.

Horse (1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002): Let loose. You’re a natural for the speed of the dragon year, but know when to slow from a gallop to a trot.

Ram (1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003): Don’t let the dragon’s heat cook you into a leg of lamb this year. Diligence serves you well in the long run.

Monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004): Parlay those mischievous monkeyshines into success this year, but maintain your balance too.

Rooster (1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005): Indulge in a bit of strutting and crowing this year. The heat of a dragon year means you’ve earned it.

Dog (1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006): The recklessness of the dragon year might tempt you to abandon your proverbial loyalty, but always stay true to your friends.

Pig (1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007): You might be tempted to mimic the dragon, but pigs don’t fly. Take some risks, but your natural prudence pays off in the end.

Adapted from

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