With Chinese New Year on the way this Sunday, we have almost run out of the year of the dragon. I started putting this list together as the Year of the Dragon entered, but now am barely managing to post it before the Dragon departs.
Dragons are creatures that have appeared in the mythologies of many cultures in Europe and Asia, and they are featured in many a song and story, among other things. Here are a dozen arbitrarily chosen dragon things to usher out the Year of the Dragon:
- Custard the Dragon: A poem by Ogden Nash from 1936
Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth,
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath,
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose,
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes.
- Puff, the Magic Dragon: A song by Peter, Paul & Mary that was inspired by Custard. (The dragon, that is. Not the dessert. But you never know. Sometimes if I eat dessert right before going to bed I get really weird dreams.)
- Dragonfire: A song written by Sandra Boynton in/on the book/album Dogtrain [mp3 sample]
- St George and the Dragon: a European legend of a man who slays a dragon.
- Smaug: the treasure-hoarding dragon from J. R. R. Tolkiens classic novel, The Hobbit.
- dragonfly: an insect that is neither a dragon nor a fly. Dragonflies are of the order odonata.
- dragonfruit: a thing that is neither dragon nor fruit. No, wait. It *is* a fruit. But I’m mostly sure it’s not a dragon.
- dragon dance: a Chinese tradition involving a large costume of a dragon, which is operated by multiple people. The dragon dance is often part of Chinese New Year celebrations.
- Dragon Ball: While it sounds like it could be a formal-dress version of a dragon dance, it’s actually a media franchise including manga, anime, and video games. But they do feature dragons who can grant wishes.
- Dungeons & Dragons: Sometimes known as D & D. A role-playing game, or universe of games. To be honest, I have no idea what role dragons play in any of it.
- Enter the Dragon (1973): Bruce Lee’s legendary martial arts movie. Bruce Lee does not actually enter a dragon in this movie. But he does enter a sort of dungeon, come to think of it.
- Here be dragons: A phrase associated with unexplored territories on old maps. Possibly this is based on only one such map, The Hunt-Lenox Globe. According to its wiki page,
It is notable as the only instance on a historical map of the actual phrase HC SVNT DRACONES (in Latin hic sunt dracones means “here be dragons“.)
There are loads more great books, movies, legends, and things with dragons. I could easily add another few dozen dragons to the list, but we’d be well into the year of the snake by that time. Instead, I’ll wrap up and get to bed. But please feel free to add more dragons in the comments!
19 thoughts on “Here be Dragons”
Yay! a ThThTh!
I used to love Puff the Magic Dragon when I was little. Great dragon images!
Thanks, Sally! I realized I forgot to post credit for the images. Several of them are public domain. I should edit to add that.
Hi Alejna —
A bit of self promotion but… I actually wrote an article some years back on dragons and Hong Kong entitled… Here Be Dragons! ;b
And yes, Hong Kong really does have a lot of dragon connections. Maybe next time you’ll visit, it’ll be when the Fire Dragon dance/parade or dragon boat races take place? ;)
Oh, that’s great, YTSL! I love that you used that title, too. I enjoyed reading the article–lots of great information.
I’d love to be back in Hong Kong for one of those dragon-related events!
This is fun. I like dragons. I think they get a bad rap here in the USA, probably because St. George had a better PR agent than the dragons.
When we first moved into this house I painted the words “Here Be Monsters” on the wall as you walk down the stairs to the basement. I don’t like basements. I didn’t know the origin of that phrase was from maps. Interesting.
I don’t like basements, either, Ally Bean. My basement is a scarby placee. I love that you painted those words on yours! I’m amused by the idea St. George’s PR agent, too. Ha!
Love it! I used to sing my kids to sleep with Puff the Magic Dragon (can’t sing – they would go limp in self defence)
Anne McCaffrey’s dragon book series is good fluff reading.
You know, I haven’t read any Anne McCaffrey stuff. I miss fluff reading!
Love thinking of your kids going limp in self defense in respose to your singing. You’re so funny!
Novel for children: Wings of Fire, the Dragonet Prophecy. It’s my kids’ obsession-of-the-moment.
Thanks for the addiition, Jennifer! Always good to know about new good books for kids.
Fun! Great post.
Dragons! :) Erik and I saw an enormous dragonfly on one of our first afternoons here in Hawaii. We both ducked involuntarily when it flew by.
When my aunt lived in Taiwan she always kept a pile of dragonfruit around. She would say that it’s very (using a Shanghainese word) “through,” with accompanying hand gesture as if sweeping obstructions aside, indicating its high fiber content. ;)
I didn’t know that about dragonfruit! But I guess I shouldn’t be surpised given all the seeds. I had it for the first time when I was in Hong Kong in 2011, and found it to be disappointingly bland. It looked so exciting, the taste should have been exciting, too!
Agreed! I’ve never had one that tasted like anything!
Custard the Dragon is in the top five on my list of children’s picture books!
Oh, I don’t know that I know the picture book! I should look for it.
I read and reread Anne McCaffrey’s Dragon riders of Pern books as a teenager. I went looking for them a while ago to give my niece, as she likes fantasy books, but couldn’t find any of them at the big bookstore in our town. I’m sure libraries still have ’em.
There is a dragon under Manhattan. When you walk around and see the steam coming out of the manholes, that’s the dragon. He even has a book.