Pedestrians walk under red lanterns hung in the Pudong Financial Area of Shanghai Reuters

Chinese New Year is the most important day of the Chinese calendar and on January 31, the Year of the Horse will begin.

The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival will be dominated by a variety of different celebrations: from red decorations and paper lanterns, to street dancing and performances.

An array of traditions dominate the beginning of a new year - and here is our pick of the most interesting facts:

Year 4712

According to the Chinese calendar, the year 4712 is due to begin this week. It marks the start of the Year of the Horse, said to bring prosperity and wealth in the 12 months ahead. The Chinese Zodiac, known as Sheng Xiao, is based on a 12-year cycle and each year in that cycle is related to an animal sign. People born on the Year of the Horse are said to be energetic, bright and intelligent. You can read more on what the horse means here.

Get a Mini Makeover

It is customary to have a haircut and buy new clothes for the year ahead. A different look is said to prevent bad spirits from following you into the new year, as they won't recognise you. However, it is bad luck to wash your hair during the first three days of the celebration, as it is believed you will wash away potential wealth.

Fruit signifies abundance and health in Chinese tradition

Oranges and tangerines

These are the two most common food symbols of the Lunar New Year. Tangerine represent wealth, while oranges are a popular symbol of good luck. The associations come from a similarity between the Chinese words for "tangerine" and "gold" - and the resemblance between "orange" and "luck". They are displayed as decorations and exchanged among friends and family. It is polite to offer the fruits with both hands and for the offer to be initially refused. In general, fruit is seen to represent happiness and abundance. If a stem or leaves are attached, they represent fertility.

Chicken and noodles

Noodles served during the Chinese New Year should not be broken or cut, as a longer length signifies a long life. In particular, it is a good idea to serve and eat chicken during the celebrations. It represents togetherness and symbolises rebirth, as well as being significant to the unity of a family.

Human migration

Baidu Chinese New Year Migration Image
China's largest search engine, Baidu, launched a map showing the mass migration in China on the new year Baidu/Screengrab

On the Lunar New Year, the largest migration of humans in the world takes place. Millions of people travel across China and other countries to reach their families and friends in time for the celebrations. China's biggest search engine, Baidu, launched a heat map of what this migration looks like. This period of heavy traffic and busy travel in China is called the Chunyun period.

Dragon and Lion Dance

Lion and dragon dances occur every year during the celebration. It is believed that loud and persistant drumming and playing with cymbals will turn away terrible fortunes and malice spirits.