Celebrations around the world are already underway for the Chinese New Year, which begins on 19 February.

The Chinese zodiac calendar - known as Sheng Xiao - is divided into 12 cycles. Each cycle lasts 12 months and is represented by an animal. This year, it is the Year of the Goat.

Families follow a set of beliefs and superstitions to start the year on the right note.

Scroll down to take a look at the top Chinese superstitions:

  • Cleaning home before the start of the New Year: Before the holiday begins, families clean their houses to get rid of any ill-fortune associated with the past year and make room for welcoming good luck.
  • Using fireworks: Lighting firecrackers is a major custom performed to scare off evil spirits and celebrate the coming of the New Year.
  • Mandarin oranges: The practice of giving Mandarin oranges is also a symbol of good luck. They are exchanged in two's among friends and families, relating to the Chinese saying that "good things come in pairs".
  • Wear something red: The colour red is considered to be the ultimate luck bringer at this time of year. Red envelopes with money are given to children and unmarried people.
  • No gifting clocks: Watches or time pieces are avoided because they symbolise time is running out or end of relationships.
  • Avoid using sharp objects: Using knives or scissors are avoided as they may cut off fortune.
  • No ghost stories: Children and adults are not allowed to tell ghost stories, as they relate to death and negative energy.
  • Don't wear black: Black clothing is avoided as it relates to death and mourning.
  • No washing hair: Chinese people believe that it is important not to wash their hair on the first day of the new year as it may wash away one's luck.
  • Pay all your debts: Some believe that not paying off debts ahead of the new year may result in ending the year the same way. Lending money is also discouraged as it may mean that the person will be lending money throughout the year.