Chinese Year of the Dragon – The Top-6 Reasons to go Shopping

The new moon on 23 January 2012 will welcome in the Year of the Dragon and see another round of the largest human migration on the planet, billions of boiled dumplings, gargantuan fireworks and enough red decorations to plaster the Great Wall of China 87-times over.


While doomsayers have been stocking up on tinned asparagus in preparation for the world-ending catastrophe of 2012, the Chinese have been preparing for the biggest of their 12 zodiac years.  The Year of the Dragon is the most auspicious year of the Chinese lunar cycle and the one that is associated with wealth and power.


Chinese Year of the Dragon Cartoon

China's having a baby boom in the Year of the Dragon

Dragon babies everywhere in China

Over 15 million new babies will be born in China in the Year of the Dragon; about the population of the Netherlands.  With China’s One-Child Policy, many parents are banking on the auspicious year for their one chance to have a baby.


The characteristics of people born as dragons are passion, courage and self-assuredness, and they’re generally doers.  They’re creative, enterprising, a little hot tempered, and are customarily, the most likely to be rich and powerful.


Statisticians believe there’ll be 5% more babies born in the Year of the Dragon than other years based on the last boom in 2000 (the last Dragon year).  Yet, with the recent softening of the One-Child Policy allowing parents who are both only-children to have two kids, and rural couples with a daughter to have another child, newborns could exceed even optimistic forecasts.


So producers of baby products selling in China can expect a good few years ahead.  But it’s not just those selling infant formula and open-bottomed trousers that are cashing in this year.


The Dragon-emblazed Rolls Royce for the Year of the Dragon

The Dragon-emblazed Rolls Royce celebrating the Year of the Dragon

 Anyone for a Rolls Royce with Dragon embossed headrests?

Just as the Year of the Dragon marries up with wealth and power, no car quite epitomises those attributes like the Rolls Royce.  Well it seems the boys in Britain, Germany, or wherever they are, decided it would be a good idea to pimp a few Rolls’ with dragon memorabilia.


Rolls Royce, traditionally the antithesis of tacky, is hoping to sell 800 dragon wagons for a cool mill (US$990,000) to those who appreciate their headrests and wood-panelled interior emblazoned with the mystical creature.


The Dragon-branded leather interior of the Rolls Royce Phantom

The Dragon-branded leather interior of the Rolls Royce Phantom


Other Corporations Milking the Year of the Dragon

Fortunately, it’s not just the rich who can stock up on the Year of the Dragon memorabilia.  Everything from Year of the Dragon Lacquer Rollingball Pens, to Tea Pots, T-shirts, games, light shades, watches, dolls.  Heck, pretty much anything you can squeeze a drawing of a dragon onto.  Here are some of my favourites:


Year of the Dragon Handbags & Cosmetics

If there’s one thing a Chinese girl loves, it’s her designer handbag, so it was inevitable that Versace would issue their 2012 Year of the Dragon Jewel limited edition handbag.  What money’s left over will undoubtedly be spent on cosmetics, so unsurprisingly Estee Lauder are peddling their Year of the Dragon powder compact.


Versace's 2012 Year of the Dragon Jewel limited edition handbag and Estee Lauder powder compact

Versace's 2012 Year of the Dragon Jewel limited edition handbag and the Estee Lauder powder compact


Year of the Dragon Mice

With touch-screens popping up everywhere in China, you don’t hear much about the humble mouse these days.  But Microsoft is putting their money where their hand is releasing its super-slick Arc Touch Year of the Dragon Mouse.

Microsoft's Year of the Dragon Mouse

Microsoft's Year of the Dragon Mouse


Year of the Dragon Coins & Stamps

America, Canada and almost every country’s mint seems to be churning out Year of the Dragon commemorative coins.  Australia’s Perth Mint claim their gold variety has been snapped up faster than any other series in the past 10 years.  And for the collectors among us, post shops in almost every country in the world will be selling their own issue of Year of the Dragon stamps.  My personal favourite are from the trusted folk at NZ Post.


NZPost's Year of the Dragon stamps

NZ Post's Year of the Dragon stamps


Exercising in the Year of the Dragon

Butt-toning Sketchers were so Year of the Rabbit.  2012 is all about strutting the busy streets in the dragon scales-clad Nike Zoom Year of the Dragon sneakers. And all those plush Chinese golf courses redirecting scarce water supplies from agriculture to keep the fairways lush, will be happy to hear their members can now play a round with Dunlop Year of the Dragon golf balls.


Nike Year of the Dragon sneakers

Nike Year of the Dragon sneakers and Dunlop golf balls


Year of the Dragon Toys

The zodiacs aren’t just for the grown-ups. China’s highest grossing movie for 2011 is hoping to retain its popularity by dragon-branding its toys – The Year of the Dragon Ultimate Optimus Prime truck/robot has been rereleased with splashings of serpents.


Year of the Dragon Optimus Prime

Year of the Dragon Optimus Prime


There’s plenty more dragon stuff out there if you’re looking for a way to spend the contents of your red envelopes.


Regardless of what’s being bought, I wish everyone from Guangdong, to San Francisco’s Chinatown to the Chinese workers maintaining infrastructure on Sudan’s Nile River, a prosperous and happy Chinese New Year.


Chūn Jié kuài lè!



More information about the World's biggest migration over the Chinese New Year Click for more interesting information about Chinese New Year and the world’s biggest migration

Post Chinese New Year Update:  During the mass migration home and back to the cities over the Chinese New Year festival period, 547 people died and 2,080 people were injured in traffic incidents.  With all the fireworks, there 2,706 fires and 5 fire-related deaths.  Happy Year of the Dragon.

7 Responses to “Chinese Year of the Dragon – The Top-6 Reasons to go Shopping”

  • alicia_b:

    Nice post Mark! Although I was expecting to see some successful Year of the Dragon born-people listed!

    • Good point thanks Alicia. My personal favourite would be Bruce Lee, or Li Xiaolong in Chinese, meaning Li the Small Dragon. Others include Joan of Arc, John Lennon, Christopher Reeve (Superman), Haile Selassie, Frank Sinatra, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and Deng Xiaoping, China’s leader from 1978-1992 who led China’s reform to become the market economy it is today

  • Kennith:

    who needs a rolls? by jan 23, the civic will be plastered with dragon transfers. inside & out.

  • James T:

    Another excellent and educational contribution Mark. I really look forward to the thought provoking additions to your first class website. Thanks a million

  • I don’t want to put a dampener on the new year, however the last two years of dragons have not been that great – there’s some concern amongst many Chinese that too much dragon is bad for you, and its a year to be cautious….especially if you yourself are a dragon. My advice? Cancel any planned holidays in Wales and steer clear of matches. – Chris

  • Well, it looks like all 800 $Million Year of the Dragon Rolls Royces have sold old. Maybe I shouldn’t have cancelled my order.

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My wife Ellen and I are currently living in China, bumbling our way around this fascinating and fast-changing country. We kicked off our stay with a semester of Intensive Mandarin studies at Beijing Language and Culture University and are now living in Shanghai. These posts cover some of my experiences, views and curious facts in and around the Middle Kingdom. Please let me know what you think!

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