Written by Madeleine Barnes, Transforming Lives Trainee.
It may be 2024, but that doesn’t mean the new year has started for everyone yet! Chinese New Year, typically celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice and followed by 16 days of celebration focused on family, marks the beginning of a new lunar year represented by one of 12 animals – this time it is the year of the Dragon.
Unlike fiery western depictions like Game of Thrones or the Hobbit, eastern dragons are considered wise and benevolent entities, associated with water and the skies. In the myth that establishes the cycle of years, all of the animals have a great race to attend a banquet hosted by the heavenly Jade Emperor – he is surprised to find the dragon placed 5th in this race, given its powerful abilities, but the dragon explained that it had stopped to bring rain to a village in need, and sent a gust of wind to help the rabbit cross a river safely on a log. It is this kind of selfless care for all species that we hope to encourage in as many people as we can, to protect as much of our world as possible.
‘Dragon’ is a common term used to refer to great crested newts as well, with their faces and bold crests matching the features of western dragons. Froglife’s Dragon Finder app was named for this likeness, and contains information to help you learn about the animals we protect. You can also submit sightings of any reptiles and amphibians to help us know where they are thriving and where they need our help the most. Download the app for free on your mobile and have it handy wherever you go!
To celebrate Chinese New Year and our amphibious friends, here’s an eastern dragon in the style of a great crested newt!