Saturday 28th January sees the start of the Chinese New Year, also known as the spring festival, which is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar. This year is the year of the Rooster. The Rooster is the tenth of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. After 2017, the next Year of the Rooster will be 2029. People born in this year are said to be honest, ambitious and attractive, but can be prone to impatience and selfishness.
New Year festivities start on the first day of the lunar month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. The first week is celebrated with visits to friends and family following special traditions designed to bring good luck.
Chinese New Year has many traditions. Before the start of the festivities, Chinese people spring clean their houses to sweep away any bad luck. On New Year's Eve, all brooms, dustpans and brushes are put away so that good luck cannot be swept away. Houses are decorated with paper scrolls with good luck phrases such as 'Happiness' and 'Wealth'.
On New Year's Eve, families gather together and have a large, traditional meal. There are different types of food depending on which region of China people come from. People will stay up until midnight setting off fireworks to frighten away evil spirits. Red symbolises fire which will scare away evil spirits, so people dress head to foot in new red clothing.
On New Year's Day children will wake up to find a red envelope filled with money and sweets under their pillows left by their parents and grandparents.
Chinese New Year ends with the lantern festival on the fifteenth day of the month. The lanterns are often hand painted with scenes from history or legend. People hang glowing lanterns at the windows of their houses and carry lanterns under the light of the full moon. A dragon dance often takes places with a dragon made of paper, silk and bamboo held aloft by young men dancing and guiding it around to collect money.
Gung hei fat choi! Happy New Year!