Chinese New Year 2018: What you need to know about the Year of the Dog

Dragon parades and red lanterns are traditional to mark Chinese New Year

Did you think the New Year was already well under way? Well, today marks the start of the 2018 Chinese New Year.

With people around the world celebrating the Year of the Dog, here is what you need to know.

  • What is the date exactly?

This year it falls on 16 February, but there is no exact date for Chinese New Year - it arrives on a different date each year because it is based on the lunar calendar.

But it usually falls between 21 January and 20 February.

It is sometimes known as the Lunar New Year, and is celebrates all around Asia.

A Chinese community in Cambodia get in on the act Credit: AP
  • Why are the years represented by animals?

According to legend, the animals were chosen by the Jade Emperor, who ordered all the animals to come to him and selected the first 12 to arrive as the ones for the Chinese zodiac.

This year is the year of the dog Credit: AP
  • What is the significance of the Year of the Dog?

The dog was running late when the Jade Emperor made his call and is the 11th of the 12 zodiac signs.

People born in the year of the dog are thought to be bestowed with the attributes associated with the dog - loyalty.

They are also thought to be straightforward and honest.

Their lucky numbers are 3, 4 and 9; and the colours green, red and purple are lucky too.

  • Anything else?

It isn't all positive - people born in the Year of the Dog can also be stubborn and opinionated, and slow to trust others.

And each of the 12 animals has variants associated with the elements - this year is the year of the Earth Dog, the first since 1958.

Earth Dogs are particularly serious and can be highly responsible at work.

A woman in Malaysia examines New Year decorations Credit: AP
  • How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

Typically with parades and fireworks. People will usually spend it with their families, clean their houses and often visit temples for blessings.

Other New Year traditions include eating dumplings and the giving of red envelopes stuffed with cash called "hongbao".

Some people will visit temples to ask for a blessing Credit: AP
  • Is anything fun happening in the UK?

With nearly 200,000 Chinese people living in the UK there certainly will be.

In London, celebrations in Chinatown will begin on Sunday, with a two-hour parade planned featuring more than 50 dragon and lion teams.

There will also be a stage show in Trafalgar Square.

The traditional red lanterns will also be out in many other cities around the country, including Manchester, Liverpool and Newcastle, all of which are planning street events and fireworks displays.

Each year there are celebrations in London's Chinatown Credit: PA
  • So was I born in the year of the dog?

You were if you were born in 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946 or 1934.

  • And if I wasn't?

Then you will be one of these:

  • Rat - 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

  • Ox - 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

  • Tiger - 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

  • Rabbit - 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

  • Dragon - 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

  • Snake - 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

  • Horse - 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

  • Goat - 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

  • Monkey - 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

  • Rooster - 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

  • Pig - 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971, 1959

The dog proves a popular animal for street vendors in China Credit: AP
  • And how do I say 'Happy New Year' in Chinese?

Xin nian kuai le !