The origins of the Dragon Dance stretch back to when peasants in rural China would use it as an appeal to the dragon spirit. It was believed that performing the dance could halt the spread of epidemics, as the dragon spirit would help to cleanse the air and water. The dragon spirit is highly revered in China for their wisdom, intelligence, and courage. In fact, children born in the Year of the Dragon (which comes every 12 years and most recently in 2000) are considered to be very lucky. From its origins as a healing dance, the Dragon Dance went on to become a popular folk activity. When westerners first encountered the Dragon Dance around 1000 A.D., it was already a part of festivals and celebrations.