I want to take advantage to talk about some unique cultural distinctions in holidays, superstitions and food. Too often, these differences make us feel like the cultural gulf is too wide, for just as westerners are accustomed to wearing a white wedding gown to symbolize purity and chastity, wearing white symbolizes death in certain Asian cultures. It’s simply a difference, and should NOT separate, but rather define, our individual heritages.
I’ll start off with the significance of dragons (I think it appropriate, yes?) in the Chinese culture in particular. The Chinese believed their people were the "descendants of the dragon,” and since Centipede Dragon is half-DRAGON, this is a logical place to start.
The dragon is an amalgamation of body parts from nine animals: a deer, a camel, the devil (that’s no animal!), a snake, a large cockle, a carp, an eagle, a tiger and an ox.
The dragon is symbolic of kindness, friendliness, wisdom and is a protector. It is the ultimate symbol of good fortune.
Dragons were thought to control when and where rain would fall, and hence, the success of crop growth. With strength in its tail, dragons could control floods with one mighty smack upon a river bed!
And finally, the coming of two dragons together in opposite directions form the yin yang sign, a sign marking eternity.
During the Lunar New Year celebration, firecrackers are thrown at the feet of dragon puppets during parades to keep the dragons awake in order to continue bringing good fortune throughout the coming year.
Next post will talk about food traditions!