The Chinese or Lunar New Year begins on January 23rd 2012. This year is a Water/Black Dragon year.
The Chinese or Lunar New Year falls on the 2nd New Moon after the Winter Solstice, so it moves around, but falls within the months of January and February in the Western calendar
“unless there is an intercalary eleventh or twelfth month in the lead-up to the New Year—in such a case, the New Year falls on the day of the third new moon after the solstice. (The next time this occurs is in 2033.)”http://herongyang.com/chinese/festivals/new_year.html
The Chinese zodiac animal symbols move in order of alternating masculine/yang and feminine/yin characters just as the Western zodiac does. For example: Aries=yang, Taurus=yin, Gemini=yang, etc. In this system fire and air signs are yang and earth and waters signs are yin.
In the Chinese system the nature of the year is more complex than the animal symbols. Each year is also colored by an elemental energy. The elementals: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth, etc. move in this order. This year is a Water Dragon year and next year will be a Water Snake year. The elements present 2 in a row, 1 yang and 1 yin of the same element back to back. There is a different color associated with each element in its yin and yang expression. Yang Water is Black, so this will be a Black Water Dragon year because Dragon is always yang.
What does it all mean? What’s the energy of the Dragon? What does water represent in relation to the Dragon?
Very simply put: A Dragon year is one of DARING, a time to be bold and creative. Water lends deep feeling, compassion and empathy to this year. Also, this dragon year will have overtones of spiritual pursuits, love and sensuality. The symbol for Water Dragon according to Susan Levitt and Jean Tang (in their book Taoist Astrology) is a “cresting wave.” A cresting wave is powerful and so many have sought to ride it and having done so feel the elation in joining with the elements instead of trying to control the elements…something we cannot do. This is a dynamic year…no doubt!
In Boulder we have a strong Tibetan population and Shambhala Buddhist community. The Lunar New Year is figured differently in that system, but is still in celebration of the water dragon…Shambhala day is celebrated at the Boulder Shambhala Center on February 22nd: http://www.boulder.shambhala.org/program_details.php?id=89216&cid=191
Established in 1974, the Boulder Shambhala Center is part of an international community of urban meditation and rural retreat centers founded by the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, now under the direction of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche.
At the Boulder Shambhala Center, we practice and teach mindfulness-awareness meditation. This technique originates directly from the Buddha Shakyamuni and has been passed from teacher to student for over 2500 years.
We invite you to explore our diverse programs designed to help people of all traditions uncover their inherent sanity, gentleness and humor.