Celebrations are kicking off to welcome the Year of the Dragon, the new Lunar Year.   There are many predictions for 2012.

Some consider the Year of the Dragon a lucky year to be born.

Demographers saw spikes in births in China in 1976, 1988, and 2000, which were also dragon years.

“Each one of the 12 animals in the zodiac has a sort of astrological connotation,” said Wong Li a prominent Chinese astrologer. “People born in the Year of the Dragon are said to be, to have strong personalities, and be ambitious, and self-assured. On the flip side they can be strong-headed and egotistical.”

Wong said the dragon’s also unique because it’s the only mythical creature in the zodiac, and began appearing in Chinese culture and art some 2,000 years ago.

In New York, organizations in Chinatown are preparing for two weeks’ worth of activities. On Monday afternoon, a firecracker ceremony is planned in Roosevelt Park in Manhattan, and next Sunday, January 29, marks the 13th annual Lunar New Year Parade and Festival, which kicks off at Canal Street.

The new Chinese year 4710 begins on January 23, 2012.  Chinese all over the world are celebrating the New Year with the new sign of the year, the dragon.

According to Chinese legend, a long time ago, the gods called together all the animals on the planet, and told them that there will be a race. The first twelve winners will be included in a special list that they were coming up with. So on the chosen date, all the animals lined up and started to race each other. Being the smallest, the rat was able to weave its way through and under all the other animals and ended up crossing the finish line first. Next came the ox, followed by the tiger, the rabbit, the dragon, the snake, the horse, the goat, the monkey, the rooster, the dog, and lastly, the pig. That’s how those twelve animals ended up representing the twelve animal signs of the Chinese zodiac, each with its own specific characteristics.

For the Chinese, the dragon is the luckiest and most auspicious of all the animal signs. Chinese parents want their kids to get married in the Year of the Dragon. Chinese couples rush to make “dragon babies” because they’re supposed to be lucky. You can just imagine the number of Chinese babies that will be born this year.

In addition, for Chinese, new year meant decorating and wearing red, having lots of food at home, attending fireworks and parades, and having lots of red envelopes with money inside. There would be round fruits so that there’ll be lots of money, and pineapples for prosperity. A big fried fish would also be present because fish supposedly represented abundance.

Many Chinese masters, astrologers and geomancers are making predictions for the Year of the Dragon.  Here are a few:

1)  They predict natural disasters and financial volatility, especially to crisis-hit Europe.

“The world economy will be unstable in the Year of the Dragon, because the economies in Europe and the US are still suffering from the effects of the recession,” Hong Kong feng shui master Anthony Cheng says.

2)  There will good news late in the year for the United States, but charts for Europe make grim reading.  Europe will collapse.

“Europe will not recover so soon – it is expected to suffer terribly all year.  But what I can say is this, a recovery for the US economy is possible in 2012,” he says.

3) Russia and China are the best bets for financial investments in 2012. The two emerging markets will be the best performers in a volatile year

4) China will have some political surprises.  The Communist Party will hold its 18th Congress to select a new generation of leaders.

“In the second half of the year, a scandalous corruption case will be exposed in China,” warns Cheng, refusing to elaborate about who will be implicated.

“In Hong Kong and in mainland China, a number of high-ranking officials will be forced to step down. Some may be thrown behind bars, or even pass away.”

5) C hinese astrologers confirm the alien invasion and reveal that in 2012 humans will meet aliens and become “interplanetary friends”.

6) There will be many storms and floods because 2012 is the Year of the Water Dragon.

7)  India will become the center for entertainment in the world.  “Indian film industry will become  much more popular worldwide than the American film industry.”

8)  Americans will get even fatter.  Chinese have long believe that Americans would “eat themselves to death” and this year may be the year that Americans become so obese that they can not compete with the rest of the world.

9)  Africa will rise as a continent and China will make many deals with African countries.

10)  There will be tragedy at the London Olympics this summer.

11)  Neo-hippies will be seen everywhere in America in the Summer of 2012.

12)  The Mayans were right.

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