Chinese New Year: What you need to know

Last updated at 08:53
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What’s the story behind Chinese New Year? (Filmed in 2019)

This week, millions of people will be celebrating Chinese New Year.

It will be marked by communities all over the world.

People will eat lots of food, enjoy fireworks, wear special clothes and hang red lanterns to mark the occasion.

This year Chinese New Year will begin on 12 February.

The reason the new year falls at this time is because it marks the start of the lunar new year, which is when there is the start of a new moon.

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This is different to the 'Gregorian' calendar that we traditionally use in the UK, which always starts on 1 January.

Because it depends on the Moon, the date of Chinese New Year actually changes each year, but it will always fall some time between 21 January and 20 February.

The festival starts on 12 February and lasts for up to 16 days. This year marks the change from the year of the Rat to the year of the Ox.

See how much you know about Chinese New Year with this quiz - and find out which Chinese year YOU were born in here.

What is it?
Girl with decorated bag.Getty Images
Children get red pockets with money in them for good luck

Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year.

It is the most important celebration in the Chinese calendar.

In Chinese tradition, each year is named after one of 12 animals, which feature in the Chinese zodiac: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.

So the animals will have a year dedicated to them once every 12 years, in a cycle.

How is it celebrated?
Performers dancing on stageGetty Images
Here, performers dance on stage at a local fair in Beijing in China to mark the new year celebrations

Celebrations in 2021 might be a bit different especially in places, like the UK, where there are still strict coronavirus restrictions which mean people can't meet up and there can't be big get-togethers.

Millions of people in China normally travel across the country in the lead up to the new year as they go to spend time with family, but this year people are being encouraged not to. Those who do travel, have to be tested and their health is also monitored.

Usually before the festivities begin, people clean their homes really well to make them ready for the celebrations.

The year of the Ox.Getty Images

Then, when New Year's Day comes, there is a tradition not to pick up a broom, in case you sweep the good luck for the New Year out of the door!

In China, schools and businesses can close for the first few days of the new year, so that everyone can spend time with their families.

People enjoy eating lots of delicious food, including noodle soup, which traditionally brings luck for the year ahead.

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WATCH: Amazing lantern shows for Chinese New Year (2018)

There are typically parades and performances, with people dressed in traditional clothes.

Fireworks are also set off, because it is thought that noise and lights will scare away any evil spirits for the coming months.

Little girlGetty Images
In Beijing, this girl is celebrating the lantern festival, which marks the end of celebrations for the Chinese new year period

Adults might give red envelopes to children with money inside too.

The festivities continue for two weeks, finishing with a special lantern festival, which signals the end of the new year celebration period.