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Today, January 23, marks the beginning of the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese calendar. The fifth in a 12 year-cycle, the dragon is the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac, making the Year of the Dragon that much more special.

Chinese astrology views the dragon as a symbol of power because the dragon is made up of parts of different animals: eagle, fish, snake and tiger. People born in the year of the dragon tend to be ‘doers’, however just like an angry dragon breathes fire, they are also known for being hot tempered. The soft underbelly of the dragon gives people born under this sign a soft spot and the ability to show compassion.

For centuries, the sign of the dragon has been associated with the most powerful Chinese emperors, particularly those of the Han dynasty. Thus, the Year of the Dragon is a year of wealth and power.

Keeping this in mind, many Chinese couples plan the birth of their children to coincide with this zodiac year and previous demographic records show that births typically go up five percent in the Year of the Dragon. As a result of the increased birth rate, many Chinese business analysts predict that sales of all baby products will increase significantly in 2012, making the Year of the Dragon a good year for business.

Such is the influence of the Year of the Dragon that many businesses are commemorating it with specialised models and merchandise. Rolls Royce is offering a Phantom line of cars with a gold exterior and dragons embroidered on the head rests, Nike has launched a ‘dragon’ inspired collection of sportswear, luxury brand Coach has rolled out Year of the Dragon inspired handbags, while Japanese brand Hello Kitty is offering a commemorative compact mirror.

– Marylou Andrew