Submitted by ub on Thu, 01/19/2012 - 20:28

The Asian Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon, will begin next week on January 23, and is celebrated by many Asian ethnic groups including Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated with loved ones, lots of special holiday food, and traditional music including drums and gongs. Family members and friends gather at each other's homes for visits during which they share large meals and gifts symbolizing fortune. According to tradition, Chinese and Vietnamese give each other "red-envelopes" with good-luck money for the New Year, and Koreans offer newly minted money as a symbol of auspicious and fortuitous beginnings. Before the New Year, houses get a thorough cleaning to sweep away evil spirits that may be hiding and everyone buys bright new clothing to wear on New Year's Day.

Known as "Chun Jie" ('Spring Festival') in Mandarin-Chinese, "Sun Nin" ('New Year') in Cantonese-Chinese, " Tết Nguyên Đán" ('Festival of the First Morning') in Vietnamese, and "Sul Nal" ('New Year') in Korean, the Lunar New Year is represented by a cycle of 12 years, each denoted by a different animal zodiac. This coming year, the Year of the Dragon, is the fifth animal in the cycle. Traditionally, the holiday festivities start 22 days prior to the New Year and continue for 15 days afterwards. Lunar New Year parades in Asian communities are annual traditions across the United States and Canada.

With few exceptions, the Asian Lunar New Year is also the one period in each year that most advertisers who target Asian multicultural consumers - regardless of product category - develop Lunar New Year greetings ads and/or special promotional offers tied to the holiday. As almost all of this advertising is placed in the North American Asian-language media, it is largely "hidden" from mainstream, general market view. Some major categories that, in past years, have acknowledged Asian consumers with specific promotions and/or holiday greetings during this important Asian celebration include those in the financial services, automotive, telecom, and retail industries, among others.

Below are some Fun Facts about the Year of the Dragon:

Dragon Years: 1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952,1964,1976,1988, 2000 (January 23, 2012 - February 9, 2013)

Chinese Calendar Year: 4710

Corresponds to Western Sign: Aries

Famous People Born in Year of the Dragon: Bruce Lee, Joe Torre, Sandra Bullock, Keanu Reeves, Lenny Kravitz, Reese Witherspoon, Colin Farrell, Wynonna Judd, Pat Tillman, Raquel Welch, Anthony Weiner, Shirley Temple, John Leguizamo, Bill Walton and Russell Crowe.

Dragon Characteristics: Innovative, Brave, Passionate, Conceited, Self-Assured and Quick-Tempered.

Best Careers for Those Born in the Year of the Dragon: Inventor, Architect, Lawyer, Computer Analyst, Engineer, Sales Person, Politician, Broker.

'Lunar New Year' In-Language:
- in Chinese: "Chun Jie" (Mandarin for 'Spring Festival')
- in Chinese "Sun Nin" (Cantonese for 'New Year')
- in Vietnamese: "Tết Nguyên Đán" ('Festival of the First Morning')
- in Korean Sul Nal" ('New Year')

'Happy New Year' Greetings:
-in Chinese (Mandarin): Gong Shee Fa Tsai (Wishing you get rich)
- in Chinese (Cantonese): Gung Hay Fat Choy (Wishing you get rich)
- in Vietnamese: Chúc Mừng Năm Mới (Happy New Year)
- in Korean: Sae Hae Bok Man Ie Ba Due Se Yo (Get lots of luck)

Lucky/Special New Year Foods:
-Chinese: Dumplings, Rice Cake (called Nian gao)
-Korean: Rice Cake Soup (called Duk-kuk)
-Vietnamese: Rice Cake (called Bánh chưng)

Next New Year: Year of the Snake: 2/10/13 - 1/30/14.