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Chinese New Year - Year of the Dragon

If your New Year’s resolution was to spend plenty of time enjoying jigsaw puzzles, I hope your year is off to a great start! It’s always seemed strange to me that January, a month in the dead of winter--or summer, depending on which hemisphere you’re in—kicks off the “new” year. (We can thank the ancient Romans who moved the start of the year from March to January, the month named for Janus, the god of all beginnings.) In my humble opinion, the Lunar New Year--often called the Chinese New Year in the West—makes a lot more sense!

The traditional Chinese calendar dates to the 14th century BCE and is a lunisolar calendar based on the sun’s position in the sky and the moon’s phases. The Lunar New Year starts on the date of the second new moon after the winter solstice, so it can occur anytime between January 21 and February 20. Also known as the Spring Festival, it’s the longest and most celebrated of all Asian festivals, observed by millions in east Asian countries and around the world. This year, the lunar new year begins February 10th and kicks off the Year of the Dragon, the only mythical creature in the Chinese Zodiac.

The Chinese Zodiac is an ancient tradition that attaches an animal sign to each year in a cycle of 12 years. As a kid, I always had fun reading the placemats at our local Chinese restaurant and figuring out everyone’s animal and their personality traits, based on the year they were born. The Chinese Zodiac from Workman Publishing was the first repeating pattern puzzle I’ve done, with enough variation in the background colors that it was a fun challenge. This 500 piece design comes in a gift box with a poster and a bonus booklet that explains the legend of the Zodiac and the attributes of each animal. It would make a great Lunar New Year gift, even for yourself!

Chinese Zodiac puzzle

The Chinese Zodiac by Workman Publishing 

The Chinese Calendar from Eurographics turned out to be one of my favorite puzzles! I love all the clever details in this 1000 piece design by Lucia Heffernan. If you like to put together puzzles with friends or family, this is a perfect one to sort and split up so everyone can assemble “their” zodiac animal.

Chinese Calendar puzzle

Chinese Calendar by Eurographics 

I was born in the Year of the Tiger, but I had a hard time picking a favorite between the snake in the take-out box, the ramen-eating pig, the very Zen rat, or the sheep playing mahjongg!

Since it’s believed that people born in a given year have the personality of that year’s animal, here’s a quick guide so you can find yours:

Rat (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020) Quick-witted, resourceful, versatile, kind.

Ox (1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021) Diligent, dependable, strong, determined.

Tiger (1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022) Brave, confident, competitive, unpredictable.

Rabbit (1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023) Quiet, elegant, kind, responsible.

Dragon (1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024) Confident, intelligent, enthusiastic.

Snake (1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025) Enigmatic, intelligent, wise.

Horse (1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026) Animated, active, energetic.

Goat (1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027) Calm, gentle, sympathetic.

Monkey (1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028) Sharp, smart, curious.

Rooster (1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029) Observant, hardworking, courageous.

Dog (1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030) Lovely, honest, prudent.

Pig (1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031) Compassionate, generous, diligent

snake pig rat sheep


Lunar New Year festivities last for two weeks, with parades and performances, dragon dances, traditional foods like long noodles to symbolize a long life and Chinese dumplings, representing good luck and wealth. The celebrations conclude with a lantern festival to signal the end of the New Year commemoration. This colorful Chinatown puzzle from Sunsout has plenty of places to purchase supplies for the celebration. If you look closely, you’ll see that it was the Year of the Rooster.

Chinatown puzzle

Chinatown by Sunsout 

Many people spend the holiday playing traditional games, like the tile-based strategy game mahjongg. I don’t know anyone who knows how to play it, but I’ve always wanted to learn! If I’d enjoy playing it as much as I did putting together Mah Jongg Masters, I might have a new obsession! If you’ve read some of my other blogs, you know I love Kate Ward Thacker collage designs, and this 1000 piece puzzle from Sunsout was another winner. The vintage playing pieces and artwork make this a fascinating design!

Mah Jongg Masters puzzle

Mah Jongg Masters by Sunsout

Since it IS the Year of the Dragon, Puzzle Warehouse has a great variety of dragon-themed puzzles for you to try! You can try a traditional Chinese design, like Pomegranate’s Dragon of the Yangtze or Educa’s Good Fortune Dragon to bring yourself luck in the new year.

Good Fortune Dragon

Good Fortune Dragon by Educa

Eeboo has the perfect pair of friendly dragons so you can puzzle with your young jigsaw fans! The Dragon comes in both a 64 count for the kiddos and a 1000 piece version for the “big” kids.

Dragon puzzle

Dragon By eeBoo 

I haven’t done any 3D puzzles yet, but Puzzle Warehouse has a few crystal dragon puzzles from Bepuzzled I’m tempted to try! You can take your pick of three colors, including this orange crystal dragon.

Orange 3D Dragon puzzle

Orange Crystal Dragon 3D By Bepuzzled 

I started the year assembling Imaginary Dragons by artist Eric Dowdle. It was fun to put together the various fierce and friendly dragons and discover the nests of dragon eggs. This is another design where you have a choice of 300 piece  or a 500 count version from Dowdle Folk Art.

Imaginary Dragon puzzle

1000 piece Imaginary Dragons By Buffalo Games 

500 piece Imaginary Dragons By Dowdle Folk Art

Whether you’re a rat, a rabbit, a rooster… or a dragon, I hope you have much good fortune and prosperity this Lunar New Year and enjoy exploring some of these puzzles as part of your celebration!


Dawn @5wolves

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Alyssa Z. - Stevenson Ranch, CA

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