Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Dragon (A Complete Guide)

Everything You Need to Know About the Year of the Dragon🐉 Personality, Compatibility and Lucky Symbols

2024 is coming and that means one thing: it’s the Year of the Dragon (龙年 lóng nián)!

In this 12-part blog post series, we’re taking you on a tour of the different Chinese zodiac animals.

From what they represent to how they influence modern Chinese culture and language, we explain everything you need to know. 

Today, we’re exploring the story, the cultural perception and the influence of the fifth year in the lunar calendar cycle: the Year of the Dragon.

Years of the Dragon include:

1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024

Year of the Dragon || Origin Story

Year of the Dragon || Dragons in Chinese Culture

Year of the Dragon || Personality of this Zodiac

Year of the Dragon || Celebrities Born in the Year of the Dragon

Year of the Dragon || Lucky and Unlucky Symbols

Year of the Dragon || Work and Relationships

Year of the Dragon || Chinese Medicine

Year of the Dragon || Dragons and Tourism

Year of the Dragon || Dragons in Chinese Language

Year of the Dragon || Naming Year of the Dragon Children

Year of the Dragon || Chinese Dishes Named After Dragons

Year of the Dragon || Wider Impact

Year of the Dragon || FAQs

The Year of the Dragon || Origin Story 

It may come as a surprise to hear that the mighty Dragon was the fifth animal to finish the Great Race (十二生肖的竞赛” shí’èr shēngxiào de jìngsài).

But what’s even more surprising is the fact that the powerful creature could have come in fourth – it just chose not to. 

Legend has it that as the Dragon approached the final stretch of the course, it saw the Rabbit leap onto a log with the hope of making it crossing without falling in the river. 

Instead of overtaking the small animal and claiming the fourth spot, the Dragon chose to help the Rabbit by blowing the log the rest of the way.

Why it decided to be so kind is unclear – especially since the creature is known for doing everything in its power to conquer challenges. 

Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Rabbit (The Ultimate Guide) Thumbnail

Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Rabbit (The Ultimate Guide)

The Year of the Rabbit 🐰 Everything You Need to Know || Luck, Culture and Compatibility In this 12-part blog post series, we’re taking you on a tour of the different Chinese zodiac animals. From what they represent to how…

The Year of the Dragon || Meaning in Chinese Culture

The Dragon is the only mythical creature to feature in the Chinese zodiac cycle, and it’s also one of the most desirable signs of them all. 

Unlike in western cultures, which consider dragons to be dangerous and destructive, the Chinese view it as a symbol of strength, prosperity and good fortune. 

Since imperial times, the dragon has featured on flags, robes and architecture to represent power and authority. 

Even today you’ll see dragons decorating the roofs and gates of ancient temples to ward off evil spirits.

It’s safe to say the Dragon still plays a very prominent role in Chinese culture, but perhaps none more important than during national festivals and celebrations. 

The most famous example is, of course, the Spring Festival (春节 – chūnjié). Every year, cities lay on dragon dances to bring good luck to people for the new year.

And, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, people across the country gather to watch dragon boat races in celebration of the Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 – duānwǔjié).

Basically, the Dragon is a pretty big deal.

Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Tiger (A Complete Guide) Thumbnail

Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Tiger (A Complete Guide)

The Year of the Tiger 🐯 Everything You Need to Know || Luck, Culture and Compatibility In this 12-part blog post series, we’re taking you on a tour of the Chinese zodiac animals. From what they represent to how they…

Year of the Dragon || Personality of this Zodiac

Good news! The Dragon is one of the most popular and desirable zodiac signs of them all. 

People born in the Year of the Dragon are thought to be brave, tenacious, intelligent and confident – all traits that make them natural born leaders. 

In fact, many Chinese people will purposely plan to have a baby during this year because it’s thought to be so lucky. 

Unlike Oxen, who value stability, Dragons love to be challenged. They’ll happily take risks and have no qualms about working obsessively hard to achieve their goals. 

It goes without saying that fiercely determined Dragons have their weaknesses, too. 

They tend to be very short-tempered people who may come across as aggressive. They struggle to accept criticism and they can’t stand incompetence. 

While other people might view Dragons’ confidence as arrogance, they tend to disagree!

Do any of these traits sound familiar? Find out your Chinese zodiac sign using our zodiac calculator.

Year of the Dragon || Celebrities Born in the Year of the Dragon

Those born in the year of the dragon are believed to be auspicious and natural born leaders.

Looking at the celebrities born in this year, it’s easy to see why!

🐉 Bruce Lee: 1940

🐉 Deng Xiaoping: 1904

🐉 John Lennon: 1940

🐉 Rihanna: 1988

🐉 Jack Ma: 1964

Year of the Dragon || Lucky and Unlucky Symbols

Chinese zodiac signs don’t just influence personality; they also determine our luck. And behind the Rat, the Year of the Dragon is one of the luckiest zodiac signs. 

That doesn’t mean you can sit back and wait for good fortune to fall on your lap, though. If you’re hoping to make 2024 your lucky year, we suggest paying close attention to these auspicious signs.

Lucky symbols for the Year of the Dragon

Lucky days: the 1st and 16th of any Chinese lunar calendar month

Lucky months: the 3rd, 4th, and 7th Chinese lunar months.

Lucky numbers: 1, 6 and 7 and any combination of numbers containing them

Lucky colours: gold, silver, grayish white

Lucky flowers: bleeding-heart glory bower, dragon flowers

Lucky directions: east, north, south

DID YOU KNOWThe Chinese Zodiac is also influenced by the five elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. 2024 is the Year of the Wood Dragon, which is thought to create the perfect conditions for growth and abundance. In other words, there’s no better time for a fresh start with working towards your goals!

The Year of the Dragon might be lucky, but like the other Zodiac signs, it also has unlucky symbols you’ll want to be aware of.

Unlucky Symbols for the Year of the Dragon

Unlucky months: the 5th and 6th Chinese lunar months

Unlucky numbers: 3 and 8 (and any combination)

Unlucky colours: blue, green

Unlucky direction: northwest

If you were born in the Year of the Dragon, you can increase your chances of having a lucky year by avoiding your unlucky colours and numbers and paying close attention to your auspicious signs during your unlucky months. 

Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Rat (A Complete Guide) Thumbnail

Chinese Zodiacs || Year of the Rat (A Complete Guide)

The rat symbolises fresh beginnings in Chinese culture. The Year of the Rat is considered the perfect time to pursue new opportunities and start afresh.

Year of the Dragon || Work and Relationships

Although it dates back centuries, the Chinese zodiac is still widely respected in modern China, and its influence can be felt in everything from personal relationships to work. Here’s how the Year of the Dragon impacts Chinese society.

The Dragon Zodiac at Work

Fierce, determined and unafraid to take risks, Dragons make brilliant leaders. 

They tend to be happiest in challenging roles in politics, academia or even entrepreneurship.

They’ll work tirelessly towards their goal – whether it’s building a business, becoming an expert or climbing to the top of the career ladder. 

As big-picture thinkers, Dragons have little time for detail and incompetence. They want the people around them to work as hard as them in pursuit of their destination, and they’re not afraid to snap at anyone who won’t. 

This makes them best suited to working with Rabbits, Rats and Tigers. A cooperation with an Ox or a Dog, on the other hand, is a recipe for disaster. 

Dragon Zodiac in Relationships

Zodiac signs also influence romantic relationships, and many young Chinese people still consider them an important symbol of compatibility.   

As an independent character, the Dragon needs someone who can both respect and support them. This makes the hard-working Rooster an ideal match. But much like in the workplace, anyone born in the Year of the Dragon should avoid dating an Ox, a Sheep or a Dog. 

If you’re looking for love in 2024, then we have good news. The Year of the Wood Dragon is said to be perfect for creating strong, lasting relationships. 

And if you’re planning a wedding for 2024, even better news: this is also one of the luckiest years to get married!

Bad Matches: Ox, Sheep, Dog
Perfect Matches: Rooster, Rat, Monkey
Acceptable Matches: Tiger, Snake, Rabbit, Horse
A Visit to the Shanghai Marriage Market (in 2022) | What's The Deal? Thumbnail

A Visit to the Shanghai Marriage Market (in 2022) | What’s The Deal?

The Shanghai Marriage Market 👰🏼 What’s The Deal? What exactly goes on at the Shanghai marriage market? When I first came to Shanghai, fresh-eyed and eager to explore the city, I asked people around me for recommendations. I received suggestions…

Year of the Dragon || Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine is another area that’s been heavily influenced by the zodiac. 

Each zodiac sign is associated with a specific element – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, or Water. For example, 2024 is going to be the year of the Wood Dragon.

These elements are thought to shape an individual’s personality and health tendencies, which TCM practitioners will consider when assessing a patient.

In traditional Chinese medicine, the Wood element is associated with qualities such as growth, flexibility, and creativity.

It’s also linked to the liver and the gallbladder, so if you follow TCM, you might want to take care of these organs by eating well, exercising or using certain herbal remedies.

Chinese Food Therapy 食疗 shí liáo // A Beginner's Guide Thumbnail

Chinese Food Therapy 食疗 shí liáo // A Beginner’s Guide

What is Chinese Food Therapy? There are many things to love about living in China, and one of them is of course, the food (see below)! There seem to be an unlimited amount of food options in China. Shanghai alone…

Year of the Dragon || Dragons and Tourism

Some people also use their zodiac signs to choose travel destinations. This has become a popular trend among travel companies, especially at the start of a new year.

If you were born in the Year of the Dragon, you might find you’re best suited to holiday destinations that offer adventure, challenge and beauty. 

Our recommendations? Get off the beaten track on the Great Wall or visit Changbaishan in China’s North-Eastern Province of Jilin. 

Or, if you’re looking for a different kind of challenge, immerse yourself in Mandarin with our one-of-a-kind language program in Chengde

Learn about Maggie’s experiences in Beijing, Shanghai and Chengde!

Year of the Dragon || The Dragon in Chinese Language 

It should come as no surprise that the Dragon is portrayed in a positive light in the Chinese language. Here are some of the most common (and useful) examples of phrases you might want to use.

龙飞凤舞 (lóng fēi fèng wǔ)

Meaning: the dragon soars, the phoenix dances

This idiom is used to describe a lively, joyous occasion filled with excitement and celebration.

人中之龙 (rén zhōng zhī lóng)

Meaning: Dragon Among Men

This idiom is used to describe someone extraordinary – someone whose outstanding abilities, talents, or achievements make them stand out from the crowd.

画龙点睛 (huà lóng diǎn jīng)

Meaning: to add the finishing touches by drawing eyes to the dragon


This idiom is used to refer to the crucial final step that perfects a work of art. It signifies adding the finishing touches that make something truly outstanding.

龙马精神 (lóng mǎ jīng shén)

Meaning: the spirit of the Dragon and Horse

This idiom is used to describe someone who remains full of energy, vitality, and has a strong spirit in their old age – much like the legendary dragon and horse.

Just be careful about insinuating someone is old 😉

Top 10 Ways to Say 'I Understand' in Chinese Thumbnail

Top 10 Ways to Say ‘I Understand’ in Chinese

Do you know how to say I understand in Chinese? There are more ways than you might think. Today we teach you 10 phrases in total.

Year of the Dragon || Naming Year of the Dragon Children

It’s not uncommon for parents around the world to choose a baby name based on its meaning. The same is true in China, only here parents may also choose their children’s names based on their zodiac sign’s auspicious characters.

Because zodiac Dragons are associated with the water element, it’s considered lucky to choose names that include radicals associated with stars (星), water (氵) or the sun (日).

It’s also associated with the radicals ‘厶” and ”冫”, meaning ‘to raise one’s head’, because that’s how the Dragon asserts its authority. 

Here are some auspicious names for Year of the Dragon babies:

星 (xīng) – Star

云 (yún) – cloud

泳 (yǒng) – swim

淳 (chún) – pure

海 (hǎi) – sea

有 (yǒu) – have

存 (cún) – exist/preserve

育 (yù) – nurture

Do you have a Chinese name already? If not, we’ve got you covered. Fill in our Chinese Name GeneDragonor, and we’ll carefully select one for you! 

Year of the Dragon || Chinese Dishes Named After the Dragon

While many Chinese dishes are named after the time or place they were created, others are named after the zodiac animals. Here are some of the most common (and tastiest) Dragon-related dishes you’ll find on the menu:

Dragon Well Shrimp 龙井虾仁 (lóngjǐng xiā rén)

This is a traditional dish originating from Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province. It’s made with fresh shrimp stir-fried with Longjing tea leaves plucked from the nearby tea fields.

Notice the theme there? Longjing tea 龙井茶 (lóngjǐng chá) is named after a famous landmark in Hangzhou’s West Lake, known as the Dragon’s Well. It’s also China’s most famous variety of green tea, so it’s a must-try!

Dragon’s Beard Candy 龙须糖 (lóng xū táng)

Got a sweet tooth?

This one’s for you.

Dragon’s Beard Candy is a traditional sweet treat that originates from imperial China.

It’s made by repeatedly stretching and folding sugar syrup to create fine strands of sugar which resemble a dragon’s beard.

They’re usually stuffed with nuts or sesame seeds and they’re delicious!

Dragon Boat Zongzi 龙舟粽子 (lóng zhōu zòngzi)

Zongzi are sticky rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. They’re the culinary symbol of the Dragon Boat Festival, and they’re made in triangles to symbolise the scales of a dragon. Inside, you’ll find various fillings, from pork to mushroom to salted egg yolk. 

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, don’t worry – you’ll find veggie-filled options too. 

Dragon Tiger Phoenix 龍虎鳳大燴 (lóng fèng chéng xiáng tuǐ)

This is a traditional Cantonese dish popular in Guangdong Province.

It involves preparing chicken and ham in a way that resembles a dragon and phoenix entwined.

This is said to symbolise auspiciousness and unity.

Not a dish to be missed in this very special year of the dragon!

Want to explore the influence of the zodiac animals on Chinese culture, chat about food or learn some new idioms?

Check out our Flexi Classes

Year of the Dragon || Wider Influence

An individual’s decision of who to marry or how to name their child might seem insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

But when enough of China’s 1.4 billion people make them, small individual choices can have a huge real-world impact on things as important as the population.

That’s a real concern for the government because, like we mentioned earlier, many people will actively plan to give birth during specific zodiac years. 

The Year of the Dragon is one of the most popular times to have a baby, which means that those born during these years face increased competition for everything from healthcare to jobs!

This isn’t just a problem in China, either. Studies from various Asian countries have revealed similar patterns. Crazy, right!?

The Year of the Dragon || FAQs

When is the next Year of the Dragon?

The Chinese zodiac calendar is 12 years long, which means after 2024 the next Year of the Dragon will be 2036. Previous years included ​​1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024.

What is my Chinese zodiac sign?

Use our Zodiac calculator to find out! 

What signs is the Dragon not compatible with?

People born in the Year of the Dragon are not romantically compatible with the Sheep, the Dog or the Ox.

Why is the Year of the Dragon lucky?

As the only mythical creature to feature in the Chinese zodiac, the Dragon represents strength, prosperity and success. Children born during this year are thought to be destined for greatness, which explains why so many parents seek to give birth during this year. 

What are people born in the Year of the Dragon like?

People born in the Year of the Dragon are thought to be brave, tenacious, intelligent and confident – all traits that make them natural born leaders

However, they’re also said to have a short temper and can come across as aggressive

What comes after the year of the Dragon?

The Year of the Snake follows the Year of the Dragon.

Want more from LTL?

If you wish to hear more from LTL Mandarin School why not join our mailing list.

We give plenty of handy information on learning Chinese, useful apps to learn the language and everything going on at our LTL schools!

Sign up below and become part of our ever-growing community!

BONUS | Want to study the local dialect known as Shanghainese? We provide Shanghainese Classes in person and online.

.

Leave a Reply

You will get a reply from us
Your email address will not be published. Name and Email are required.

Ask us a question!
  • LTL Avatar Mojca Godec
    Mojca Godec , Student Advisor

    Welcome to LTL Language School!

    How can I help you?