Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Year of the Dragon

CSSA holds annual gala to celebrate Year of the Dragon

Feb. 10 was the first day of the Lunar New Year for many Asian cultures worldwide. Each year brings a sense of renewal, a transition from seasons, an opportunity to celebrate with loved ones and recognition of one of the 12 Chinese zodiacs.

The Heavenly Gate Race is the origin story of the 12 zodiac symbols: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig, who crossed a river in that order. Based on which animal crossed the river before the gate quickest, the jade emperor would determine their rank. He requested all 12 animals.

Each year an earthly branch, or an animal zodiac, is paired with a heavenly stem; water, wood, fire, earth, metal. Together, they represent what type of elemental animal shall preside over the year. 2024 is the year of the wood dragon. The Year of the Dragon comes every 12 years, though the Year of the Wood Dragon comes every 60 years.

The Chinese Society of San Antonio (CSSA) held a gala to honor this event. To celebrate the Lunar New Year and the Year of the Dragon, CSSA welcomed performances from chopstick dancers, singers, tai chi martial artists, dancing lions and taekwondo from Olympian and taekwondo master, Elva Pai Adams.

The CSSA has been in the community for 42 years as a nonprofit organization that works to “bring awareness to the community and attempt to enlarge our organization in terms of members,” Co-Chairman Douglas Otto said. 

Though the organization has been present in the San Antonio area for over four decades, this is only the third time they have been able to celebrate the Year of the Dragon and the first time they celebrated the wood dragon.

“It’s one of the most auspicious of the animals, it brings about power, luck, money, good health and so forth. This goes back to the [Shang] dynasty and it’s the one everyone aspires to be,” Otto said.

Many people refer to the Yin calendar, which dates back to the Shang Dynasty, to predict yearly outcomes for themselves and others. Businesses that benefit the wood, lumber and more centrally focused earth industries, may see a growth rate in their fortune or overall success this year.

“Many people try to have babies during the Year of the Dragon,” Otto said. Despite being ranked fifth, the dragon is seen as a strong zodiac, and many parents believe that bringing their children into the world during the Year of the Dragon will also bring them a promise of luck.

“The wood has a lot of energy. Wood is alive, it’s a natural element. Anything that is natural has something to do with wood,” Co-chairman Charles Chen said. “Each element has its own characteristic. It depends on what you believe, but many people try to be like their zodiacs.”

Sharleen Daube runs communications for CSSA and was born during the Year of the Earth Dragon herself. 

“One of my favorite stories about the dragon is in the race for all the Chinese zodiac characters to cross the river, the dragon is probably one of the more powerful creatures and could have easily been in first place, but the dragon actually ended up staying back because he saw a town that needed help. The dragon came in and blessed them with the resources necessary for them to be prosperous, then the dragon got back in line,” Daube said. “I think that’s a good thing to live by, being selfless and helping others.”

The CSSA is always looking to add more members to their society, especially younger members to bring awareness to the growing Asian community in Texas.

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Haley Aguayo
Haley Aguayo, Assistant Sports Editor
Haley (she/her) is a senior at UTSA who is majoring in digital communications and minoring in marketing and will be graduating in December 2024. She joined The Paisano in the spring of 2023 and primarily writes for the sports section. Haley has since become the assistant sports editor at The Paisano. After she graduates, she hopes to work in sports journalism or do in-house marketing for a professional sports team.
Dustin Vickers
Dustin Vickers, Photo Editor
Dustin (He/Him) is a third-year medical humanities major with a concentration in health careers. After graduation, he plans on attending medical school in hopes of becoming an emergency radiologist. When he’s out of the classroom, he is helping run the swim club with his co-president, blasting some sick beats, or looking for a good spot to grub.

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