Chinese New Year 2024: The Year of the Wood Dragon

United States By Christy Lowry Jan 5, 2024

Chinese New Year, also referred to as the Lunar New Year, signifies the departure of the old and the arrival of good fortune into the new year. In 2024, celebrate the Year of the Dragon to welcome strength, power, and success. Learn about the history of the Lunar New Year, the symbolism behind the Year of the Dragon, and time-honored traditions that usher in this holiday of renewal.

What is Chinese New Year?

Chinese New Year falls on different dates each year following the lunar calendar. Originally, this holiday was a tribute to ancestors and heavenly deities, spanning 15 days and culminating with the first full moon of the year.

The Chinese zodiac assigns each year to one of twelve animals. This tradition originates from an ancient Chinese poem that recounts 12 mythical animals descending from heaven to usher in spring and a new harvest. In 2024, we embrace the Year of the Dragon. Alongside the animal zodiac, the Chinese New Year also associates each year with one of the five elements—earth, wood, fire, metal, and water. In 2024, wood takes the center stage, making it the Year of the Wood Dragon.

What is the significance of the Year of the Dragon?

To grasp the significance of each Lunar New Year, it’s necessary to recognize the attributes of both the element and the animal. With wood as the element for Chinese New Year 2024, we embrace growth, success, and the initial stage of development. Wood symbolizes humanity’s aspiration to achieve, progress, grow, and expand. The Year of the Dragon represents health, strength, and good fortune. Those born in this year are believed to embody qualities associated with dragons—natural leadership, charisma, and boundless enthusiasm.

What are the time-honored traditions of the holiday?

Red envelopes

A cherished tradition involves elders gifting red envelopes, or hongbao, to children and grandchildren to bestow good fortune for the year ahead. These envelopes contain money, symbolizing a prosperous start to the new year. Beyond elders, colleagues and friends often exchange hongbao.

With Western Union, you can ensure the reliable delivery of your hongbao to family and loved ones. It’s easy to send money to an account tied to Alipay digital wallets1 back home in China starting at a . The Western Union app streamlines the whole process, allowing you to directly send money to China for this auspicious holiday. You can send funds to the bank accounts of your friends and family in China. Arrange a bank transfer to accounts held with Industrial & Commercial Bank, China Construction Bank, Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China and more.

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Fireworks and lanterns

No Lunar New Year celebration is complete without the dazzling display of fireworks and lanterns. Each year, lanterns are illuminated to signify the banishment of darkness and the illumination of hope for the upcoming year. This age-old tradition dates back over 2,000 years to the Han Dynasty and remains an integral part of the holiday. Lanterns are released into the night sky on the final evening of the fifteen-day festival.

Reunite with families

Above all, Chinese New Year is about reuniting with family. People travel from near and far to come together with loved ones. The annual family dinner, known as nian ye fan, is a special occasion for bonding and sharing blessings for the year ahead. Families eat together around a large dining table, offer incense to honor ancestors, and exchange hongbao.

Connecting loved ones with Western Union

As we welcome the Year of the Dragon in 2024, embrace the time-honored traditions and cherish these precious moments by sending money to your loved ones with Western Union.

Send money securely and conveniently online, through the Western Union app or by visiting an agent location, and create unforgettable memories for your loved ones this Chinese New Year.

Send money today with Western Union.

1Funds will be paid to receiver’s mWallet account provider for credit to account tied to receiver’s mobile number. Additional third-party charges may apply, including SMS and account over-limit and cash-out fees. Funds availability subject to terms and conditions of service. See Mobile Form for Restrictions.

2FX gains apply.