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Some Lunar New Year events will be blue this year. The reason may surprise you IG News

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key points
  • Some Lunar New Year celebrations this year are different from the traditional red decorations.
  • According to the Korean zodiac, 2024 is the year of the blue dragon, known as “gapjin” in the 60-year sixty-year cycle.
  • In Eastwood, Sydney’s official Korean quarter, the Festival of Lights will illuminate the streets in blue and red to symbolize unity and a fresh start in the new year.
For many people in Australia, the Lunar New Year is associated with vibrant red decorations, which in Chinese culture symbolize happiness, joy and rejoicing.
This year, however, some events will take on charming shades of blue.

In the Sydney suburb of Eastwood, square lights decorated in a mixture of red and blue will add a different twist to the traditional spectacle.

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Square lights in a mixture of red and blue in Eastwood, Sydney. Source: SBS / Leah Hyein Na

Suddenly

The presence of blue during this year’s Lunar New Year celebration has its roots in Korean culture.
According to the Korean zodiac, each year is represented by one of 12 animals accompanied by a special color, with 2024 being the year of the blue dragon.
The sixty-year cycle, an ancient East Asian calendar that repeats itself every 60 years, comprises 10 heavenly stems and 12 earthly branches, this cycle links each element to directions and colors.

The year 2024 is marked as “gapjin”, the 41st place in the cycle.

SOUTH KOREA NEW YEAR 2024

The drones lit up to create an image of a blue dragon over Cape Ganjeol, the coastal point where the earliest sunrise can be seen on the Korean Peninsula, on January 1, 2024, as part of celebrations marking the Year of the Dragon in China. the zodiac. Credit: YONHAP/EPA

For example, wood corresponds to the east and the color blue, fire to the south and the color red, earth to the middle and the color yellow, metal to the west and the color white, and water to the north and the color black.

“Vrazel” – representing the element of wood, east and blue – together with “yin”, meaning dragon, marks the year as the year of the Blue Dragon.

Since the animal in the zodiac repeats every 12 years, 2012 was “imjin” or the year of the black dragon, and 2036 will be “Byeongjin” or the year of the red dragon.

SOUTH KOREA NEW YEAR

Visitors take photos of an inflatable blue dragon at Gwanghwamun Market in Seoul, South Korea, on January 1, 2024. Credit: YONHAP/EPA

Colorful zodiac marketing

While the Chinese community calls 2024 the Year of the Wooden Dragon, Koreans have widely embraced the use of colorful zodiac animals, especially in marketing efforts.
Examples include the release of a series of blue dragon stamps and New Year’s cards by Korea Post, the launch of Dragon Ball-themed buns by food giant SPC group, and the launch of the limited edition Blue Label Year of Dragon by Scotch whiskey brand Johnnie Walker.

Although the exact origin of this color marketing trend is uncertain, Korea’s leading newspaper Dong-a Ilbo notes that the Year of the Yellow Pig was mentioned in its 1959 New Year’s edition.

The historical significance of the blue dragon

In addition to its modern use in marketing, the blue dragon holds a special place in Korean history.

As the only imaginary animal in the 12 zodiacs, the dragon is depicted in murals found in the tombs of the ancient Korean kingdoms of Goguryeo (37 BC–668 AD) and Goryeo (918–1392 AD).

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Image of King Tae, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1894), dressed in blue dragon robes. Source: Attached / Korean Culture Portal

The image of King Taejo, the founder of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1894), dressed in blue dragon robes reflects the creature’s historical significance as a symbol of kingship and power.

In Korean mythology, dragons are benevolent creatures associated with water and rain, unlike their Western counterparts associated with fire and destruction.

In droughts, people prayed to dragons, sometimes images of dragons floated down rivers wishing for rain.

A celebration with the blue dragon Meerue

In Korean, the word for dragon is “yong”, but it used to be “meerue”. On the occasion of the Lunar New Year 2024, a children’s animation entitled ‘Meerue the Blue Dragon’, written by Julianne Lee, will be presented in Eastwood.

The Sydney suburb is home to the only official Koreatown in Australia, and the animation will be shown during the Festival of Lights on February 17.

“It’s the story of a blue dragon, Meerue, who lives high in the sky and flies to Australia and meets various new friends,” Lee said.

“During these encounters, he becomes more and more beautiful as he takes on different looks and personalities and builds friendships.”

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A children’s animation titled ‘Meerue the Blue Dragon’ by illustrator Claire Jeon and author Julianne Lee. Source: Attached / Julianne Lee and Claire Jeon

Lee emigrated to Australia with her family when she was 16 years old. She has worked in the banking and finance industry for approximately 20 years and is an active leader in the Korean community in Sydney.

She recently became an author of children’s stories.
“After struggling with various multicultural issues, I mustered up the courage to create my first children’s story to mark the Year of the Blue Dragon,” she said.

In the story, Meerue meets kangaroos, koalas, and cockatoos upon landing at Uluru, Australia, and his scales become brighter colors as a reflection of the new friends he meets, their smiles and stories.

I wanted to convey a message of openness and diversity to our immigrant children who may lose confidence or become passive in multicultural Australian society.

Julianne Lee, Author

Illustrator and textile artist Claire Jeon created these animals using traditional quilting techniques by sewing together scraps of various fabrics.

“I wanted to create a natural, beautiful relationship with the illustration by making the texture of natural materials visible and providing a nostalgic comfort by showing threads,” Jeon said.

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Australian animals are featured in the story ‘Meerue the Blue Dragon’ illustrated by Claire Jeon. Source: Attached / Julianne Lee and Claire Jeon

Lee said the dragon will also connect Australian and Korean culture.

“Actually, the story was created as an animation with the support of the Korea Governors Association, so Meerue specially flies to Ryde from the skies of Jongno, Ryde’s sister city in Korea.”

“This year, the Meerue blue dragon will travel from different regions of Korea to each region of Australia to share the friendship between the two countries,” Lee said.

Enrichment of the festival experience

Jennica Seo, project coordinator of Eastwood Koreatown, said that in addition to the animation presentation, the local lantern festival will also include blue dragon face painting and making, and a lantern workshop.
“This Lunar New Year, I hope to see the streets lit up with blue and red Korean lanterns. The colors of yin and yang will symbolize harmony and love.

“When a blue dragon appears, it will mean good health, abundance, prosperity and a new beginning,” Seo said.

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