Year of the Dragon - This new year is the ‘Year of the Dragon’ on the Chinese Zodiac system or ‘Shengxiao.’ The Shengxiao is based on the Chinese lunar calendar which designates an animal for each year in a repeating 12-year cycle. Other animals in the Chinese Zodiac are the Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Each has their own traits and symbolisms.
The Dragon or ‘Long’ is a revered and iconic symbol affecting different aspects of Chinese life. Dragons are considered protectors that guard sacred places, treasures, and sometimes even individuals. The Chinese dragon is often seen as harmoniously balancing the opposite forces of yin and yang. This embodies the concept of balance and unity in Chinese philosophy. Dragons also are integral to ‘Feng Shui’, the Chinese practice of harmonizing one's surroundings to enhance well-being.
‘Long’ imagery is used to attract positive energy, and the placement of dragon symbols is carefully considered in Chinese architecture and design. The Dragon is also a symbol of good fortune, success, and prosperity and the belief in the dragon's positive influence has led to its widespread use in celebrations and festivals.
Dragons of Okinawa - With centuries of trade and influence from different areas of the world, Okinawa has a rich heritage that combines its own unique culture with that from outside of its borders. This is reflected in the traditions and philosophies of the Dragons of Okinawa. Okinawan Dragons or ‘Ryu’ are generally seen as kind and protective beings which guard the land, sea, and people. Some Okinawan legends depict the Ryu watching over important sites or serving as protectors of specific regions. Ryu are also symbols of power, authority, and good fortune. Emperors and high-ranking officials have historically connected themselves with Dragon imagery to signify their authority and divine connection.
Okinawan folklore includes tales of these mythical creatures as wise beings which often emphasize the importance of living in harmony with nature and the spiritual world, and imparting valuable life lessons. Okinawan culture also places emphasis on harmony and balance, drawing influences from Chinese and Japanese philosophies related to Dragons. The Okinawan ‘Shisa’ is a popular mythological creature in Okinawan culture that resembles a lion-dog. These are often placed in pairs to guard against evil spirits. Some interpretations link the