Preparations are already well under way for the 4,714 Chinese New Year, which begins on 8 February, with millions of people across the world getting ready to ring in the year of the monkey in style. Often known as the Lunar New Year or Spring Festival – the literal translation of the contemporary Chinese name – Chinese New Year is considered one the most important events in Chinese culture, with spectacularly visual and artistic performances and events taking place all over the world.

Celebrating the New Year at the turn of the lunar Chinese calendar means that the date changes annually, but it usually falls between 21 January and 20 February, with most of the festivities beginning the day before the New Year and continue until the Lantern Festival, celebrated on the 15th day of the New Year, when the moon is at its brightest. Each year is associated with a Chinese zodiac animal sign. The year of the monkey is the ninth of the 12 animals in the recurring 12-year Chinese zodiac cycle, meaning that every 12 years there is a monkey year. The animal is then combined with one of the Five Elements, which are earth, fire, water, wood and gold (metal). This year, fire is the chosen element, making 2016 is the year of the fire monkey.

Chinese New Year 2016
Members of the Shanxi Folk Dance and Music Troupe perform during their show at the Orient Museum in Lisbon, Portugal. The show is part of the Chinese New Year Celebrations programme of Lisbon's Orient MuseumReuters/Rafael Marchante
Chinese New Year 2016
Lanterns decorate a temple to celebrate Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaReuters/Olivia Harris
Chinese New Year 2016
A member of the Shanxi Folk Dance and Music Troupe prepares backstage before a show at the Orient Museum in Lisbon, PortugalReuters/Rafael Marchante
Chinese New Year 2016
A caretaker sits inside a temple ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations in the Petak Sembilan area of Jakarta, IndonesiaReuters/Darren Whiteside
Chinese New Year 2016
A woman prays under chinese lanterns ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations on 8 February at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaReuters/Olivia Harris

Before calling in the New Year, it is of great tradition to clean the house to rid your living space of bad omens that may have occurred during the previous year. Cleaning usually happens on 2 February, six days before New Year's Day. Superstitions have left people believing that sweeping or dusting should not be done on New Year's Day for fear that good fortune would be swept away. In the folk custom, people also have baths and wash all clothes two days prior to the New Year in the hope of removing bad luck from the previous year. Other traditions include shopping for gifts for loved ones, purchasing decorations and fireworks, preparing food and visiting the tombs of ancestors – the latter of which is done on New Year's Eve.

Chinese New Year 2016
Ethnic Dong women wearing traditional costumes hold 'pipas', a traditional instrument, as they pose for pictures during a rehearsal ahead of the Chinese New Year of the Monkey in Liping county, Guizhou Province, ChinaReuters
chinese new year preparations
A man practices the traditional lion dance at a workshop ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaReuters/Olivia Harris
Chinese New Year 2016
A man makes traditional candy 'matang' in preparation for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year in Yuqing County, Zunyi, Guizhou Province, ChinaReuters
Chinese New Year 2016
Children wearing monkey costumes play before a performance of the 'Shehuo' festival ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year, in Hancheng, Shaanxi Province, ChinaReuters
Chinese New Year 2016
A Hong Kong Ocean Park worker poses with a pygmy marmoset, the world's smallest monkey, sitting on his hand in Hong KongReuters/Bobby Yip
chinese new year preparations
A worker hangs up red lanterns as decorations ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at a temple in Beijing, ChinaReuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon
Chinese New Year 2016
A monkey stands on an alpaca for tourists to take pictures ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year of the Monkey at a zoo in Kunming, Yunnan Province, ChinaReuters/Wong Campion
Chinese New Year 2016
A mask is dried on a heating pipe before being painted at folk artist Zhao Yongqi's studio in Beijing, ChinaReuters/Jason Lee
Chinese New Year 2016
Folk artist Zhao Yongqi checks a monkey mask after painting at his studio, in Beijing, ChinaReuters/Jason Lee
Chinese New Year 2016
A worker cleans a dragon costume ahead of the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations at the Boen Tek Bio temple in Tangerang, Banten Province, IndonesiaReuters/Beawiharta
Chinese New Year 2016
Performers walk past a poster during the 'Shehuo' festival before Chinese Lunar New Year in Hancheng, Shaanxi Province, ChinaReuters
Chinese New Year 2016
A woman is seen next to the Chinese Warriors sculptures at Zagreb's main square in Croatia, where eighty Chinese Warriors sculptures are being installed for Chinese New YearReuters/Antonio Bronic
Chinese New Year 2016
A man works on masks used for traditional lion dances at a workshop ahead of the upcoming Chinese New Year in Kuala Lumpur, MalaysiaReuters/Olivia Harris
chinese new year preparations
People pick up sweets at a shop selling Chinese New Year goods in a market in Taipei, TaiwanReuters/Pichi Chuang
chinese new year preparations
A florist prepares to wrap branches of catkins, or pussy willows, for a customer at her stall at the Victoria Park New Year Flower Market in Hong KongReuters/Antony Wallace
Chinese New Year 2016
A saleswoman holds salted dried ducks as she walks between shelves ahead of the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year outside a store in Pengzhou, Sichuan Province, ChinaReuters
Chinese New Year 2016
Salted dried ducks are hung on shelves for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year outside a store in Pengzhou, Sichuan Province, ChinaReuters
Chinese New Year 2016
A customer tries on a dress in preparation for Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok's Chinatown, ThailandReuters/Athit Perawongmetha
Chinese New Year 2016
A worker paints decorations for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple fair in Beijing, ChinaGetty/Lintao Zhang
Chinese New Year 2016
A worker paints the decorations for the upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple fair in Beijing, ChinaGetty/Lintao Zhang
Chinese New Year 2016
People carry belongings toward trains at the main railway station in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China as travel for the annual Chinese Lunar New Year and Spring Festival holidays continuesReuters/Alex Lee
Chinese New Year 2016
Performers dressed in Chinese opera costumes take part in a celebration for the upcoming Chinese New Year at Zagreb's main square, CroatiaReuters/Antonio Bronic
Chinese New Year 2016
Orphans wearing costumes wait for a performance ahead of the Chinese New Year of the Monkey, which starts on 8 February, at Shanghai Children's HomeReuters