Xīnnián hǎo 新年好
This year, Lunar or Chinese New Year falls on 1 February, although celebrations will typically last 16 days, starting from Chinese New Year’s Eve (31 January) until 15 February .
This year is Year of the Tiger. The tiger is known to be king of all beasts in China and comes third in the Chinese zodiac. The qualities associated with the tiger are competitive, self-confident, brave and with great willpower and strength.
Each year on the Chinese calendar is linked to one of 12 zodiac animals, each with their own specific characteristics. The twelve animals are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.
The cycle is based on an old folk tale called the Great Race. All twelve animals take part in a race to reach the Jade Emperor. The order they completed the race is the order in which the years are named. The Rat won out against the bigger animals by catching a ride on the back of the ox and then jumping off its back at the last minute. So the Ox, who had been due to win the race, had to settle for second place and the others fill in the places behind, with the Pig coming last.
The final day of the celebrations is marked by the Lantern Festival with many people letting paper lanterns off into the sky.