Year of The Dragon – Year of Luck?

Chinese New Year is one of my favourite times of the year.  It is a time for gathering with family and spending quality time together

Traditionally on New Year’s Eve, celebrations would include buying a whole new set of clothes to ‘do away with the old’ and welcome a new beginning. These clothes were not considered ‘fast fashion’ like today’s world but an investment for the year.

I fondly remember every Chinese New Year as a child. We would sit in our precious new outfits which was a once a year treat and we would enjoy a meal that had taken days to prepare with limited resources. Some food could only be served during the New Year period as my mother had to save up for months to be able to afford it. My siblings and I would open red envelopes containing a small token of money given to us by relatives. I would relish the sensation of feeling happy and festive from top to bottom as we eagerly welcomed in the New Year with food and a small token of pocket money. I would relish the sensation of feeling brand new from top to bottom in my new clothes as we eagerly welcomed in the new year and all that it promised. 

Although this holiday is commonly called ‘Chinese New Year’ in the west, China is not the only country to observe it. Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, is the most celebrated and longest of all Asian festivals and is observed by millions of people worldwide.

Many other countries in East Asia, including Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and the Philippines, hold their own New Year celebrations at this time.

During Lunar New Year, it’s customary to present friends and family with a vibrant, ornate red envelope, known as 紅包 (hóngbāo)

Welcoming the dragon and a boost in birth rates

Of course, there is always much excitement heralding the next animal to be celebrated in the Chinese Zodiac. This year is the Year of the Dragon and those born in a dragon year are believed to be ambitious and energetic with the ability to inspire others with their passion and enthusiasm. ‘Dragons’ are also believed to be the luckiest of the zodiac signs and historically ‘dragon years’ see a boom in the birth rate as parents wish their offspring to be lucky ‘dragons’.  With many Asian nations suffering from a steep drop in birth rates and a growing older generation it is hoped that the auspicious dragon will help to boost this decline in birth rate in many Asian countries.  

Thinking about future generations

With the new year comes new hope. Personally, my new year wish is to encourage and educate the current generation to think of the future generation. According to the UN: “Future generations are all those generations that do not yet exist, are yet to come and who will eventually inherit this planet.” The term ‘future generation’ feels a world away from our day-to-day life but if I think ahead, our actions now will impact my teenage daughter’s children. This begs the question – what are we leaving behind for the future generation? 

Currently we are witnessing human conflict in different parts of the world including Ukraine and Gaza. We are experiencing climate change and facing worrying biodiversity loss. The current state of the planet often keeps me awake at night. I would hate for my grandchildren, the future generation, to inherit these challenges – many of which were caused by our current irresponsible actions.

Smiles of Tomorrow: Kids radiate hope, a reminder to shape a brighter future for generations to come

New Year – New Plans. How can we make a difference this new year?

Such worrying global issues is what motivates me to promote and expand the reach of ACTAsia’s award winning work. Our pioneering Caring for Life education programme is changing the way children, consumers and professionals think and act. Our work helps us to connect with hearts and minds to create a more compassionate and sustainable world for the future generation. Our education programmes encourage everyone to consume with their conscience and consider the impact on the planet. 

I am excited and optimistic for 2024. As a team we are committed to reaching more children with our annual Earth Day event and reaching more consumers with our Plant Forward campaign. We will be hosting ACTAsia’s Sustainable Fur Free Fashion Festival and shining a light on the harmful practice of fur farming and fur trade. We will be promoting our Compassionate Choices Network (CCN) as more Asian NGO’s join forces to focus on issues affecting animals, people and the environment. This year ACTAsia is also committed to reaching more vets in rural China by providing training about animal welfare and how it is linked to human health.

I am also working on ACTAsia’s Future Plan to boost the numbers of Pioneer Schools that offer Caring for Life education as part of their curriculum. Furthermore, I am actively promoting ACTAsia’s Institute for Change program as we desperately need more cutting edge academic and scientific research into the impact of One Health implications of fur farming. We would not be able to launch these exciting and vital projects without the incredible and generous donors who share the same long-term vision as us – to create a more compassionate world. 

Woman (Pei Su) headshot
Pei Su – ACTAsia’s CEO – shares her thoughts on the Year of the Dragon

What does the Year of the Dragon mean to me?

For me personally, the Year of the Dragon heralds a new year and a new start following a challenging year of illness last year as I underwent cancer treatment. Winning the award for the Annual Public Welfare Personality at the 13th Philanthropy Festival in Beijing recently, was a truly special moment for me. During the tough treatment period, ACTAsia’s work helped me through this dark period. I am now touched that ACTAsia and my efforts to create a more compassionate world for animals, people and the environment in China and Asia have been recognised. 

I would like to wish everyone a Happy Chinese Dragon Year! Let us all wish to do away with bad habits and look forward towards making new informed choices to implement long term sustainable change.  

If you’re inspired by ACTAsia’s goals and wish to make a positive change, please consider donating. Your contribution directly fuels our efforts, ensuring long term sustainable change. Help us further our cause and ensure a kinder future for animals, people, and our planet. Donate here

Pei Su, is a Chinese sociologist, and co- Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ACTAsia, an international NGO established in 2006. She is a strong advocate of education and training as the main vehicle for long term sustainability, aiming to inspire people to understand and appreciate the world we share, and to take responsibility for the protection and preservation of its inhabitants and resources.