CHINESE New Year starts tomorrow, which means the beginning of the Year of the Dog and the start of celebrations.

New Year celebrations often involve family gatherings, feasts, flowers, sweets, firecrackers and lucky red packets.

New Year’s Day falls on a different date each year, normally between January 21 and February 20, as it is based on the Chinese lunar calendar.

Among those celebrating Chinese New Year were year 7 students at Christopher Whitehead Language College in Worcester who took part in a day of activities. Students ate a traditional Chinese lunch, interviewed each other in Mandarin and took part in a Lion Dance workshop.

Why is it called the Year of the Dog?

Ancient Chinese people used zodiac animals to date the years. That’s why each lunar year is named after the Chinese animal zodiac.

Twelve animals were used to repeat a cycle of 12 years. In order, the animals are rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

The animal that represents each year also tells a lot about personality characteristics.

The Chinese animal zodiac or shengxiao which means ‘born resembling’ are arranged in a repeating 12-year cycle.

Those born in 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, and 2018 are known as dogs.

Anyone born in an Earth Dog year will be independent, serious, loyal and responsible, while their weaknesses might be that they are sensitive, stubborn and emotional.

For people with the birth year dog, their lucky numbers are three, four and nine and their lucky colours are green, red and purple.

How is Chinese New Year celebrated?

Chinese New Year celebrations involve bell ringing, lighting firecrackers and watching traditional lion dances.

Chinese families gather together for a reunion dinner on New Year's Eve, and clean their houses to sweep away bad fortune on New Year's Day.

A big part of Chinese New Year is ‘bai leen’ – paying visits to friends and family with an armful of gifts and food and wishing them well.

It’s customary to give out ‘lai see’ or red packets during the celebrations, though this only applies to married people.

Traditionally, children are given gifts of money in lucky red envelopes – there is even a red envelope app for it.

The rule of thumb when giving out gifts is the more familiar you are with the person, the greater the amount should be.

You should always use both hands to give out ‘lai see’ and receive with both hands.

It is rude to open red envelopes in front of others and even worse, start counting the money.