The Chinese Zodiac calendar has twelve years. These years are identified by various common animals: pig, rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, and dog. Then the twelfth year is the supposed mythological creature, the dragon. Logically, why would the Chinese have a calendar consisting of common animals and then one mythological dragon? This indicates the cultures knowledge and experience with this animal just as with the other “common” animals.
In Chinese culture, many believe that the sign of the dragon represents the highest authority as evidenced by the Chinese emperors being called the Son of Dragon (天子 [tiān zǐ]). The dragon is believed to have the gift of flying, breaking-out fire and summoning wind and rain. This mystical animal with powerful abilities gave people a belief that a dragon could bless and protect them from natural disasters and other manmade calamities.