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Thousands of people visit a lantern festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dragon in Shanghai on Jan. 23, 2012.
Chinese, Vietnamese and Koreans in Southern California and beyond mark the start of the Lunar New Year on Monday.
And because it's the Year of the Dragon, 2012 could also see another baby boom. The Chinese consider it the luckiest of the 12 zodiac signs. Judy Chen of the Asia Society told KPCC’s Madeleine Brand that many Chinese plan to have children during the Dragon year.
“The Dragon is considered the most blessed and noble and powerful sign among all the Chinese zodiacs," said Chen. "Also, strictly speaking, the Chinese people... we are thought of as being descended from the dragon."
According to Chen, even United States Chinese birthing centers have begun to prep for a busy year.
"A lot of people sort of do it tongue-in-cheek," Chen said, "but a lot of parents, that take it as seriously as when they plan their marriage, they'll plan for it to coincide with the Dragon Year."
Even those who take it less seriously, Chen said, always have the Dragon in the back of their mind.
Famous people born during the Year of the Dragon include former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, Bruce Lee and Martin Luther King Jr.