The Lunar New Year is just around the corner, bringing parades, festivals and parties to bring in the year of the goat.

The Chinese zodiac, Sheng Xiao, attaches different animal signs to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years, but the translation of the Chinese word "yang" – "horned animal" – has led to dispute over whether 19 February will be the start of the year of the goat, sheep or ram.

The Chinese zodiac derives from a similar concept in western astrology and means "circle of animals" – and remains popular in China, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and other neighbouring countries.

It is thought that the animals in the Chinese zodiac calendar originate from the Han Dynasty, between 206 BC and 220 AD, during which they were used to count years. The animal signs are the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Each animal is associated with an "earthly branch" such as fire, water, metal or wood.

Chinese New Year
Decorations welcome the year of the \"horned animal\" for the upcoming Lunar New Year in Beijing Getty

So, according to Chinese traditional astrology, what personality traits are associated with the year of the goat?

It is thought that the people born in the year of the goat are calm, gentle, polite, intelligent and kind, as well as artistic and creative. They are economical and approach business cautiously, taking great care to consider the feelings of others.

The ability to be empathic and sympathetic are attributed to people born in the year of the goat, and they are believed to place great emphasis on attaining the approval of people they respect.

What about weaknesses?

People born in the year of the goat are believed to be overly-sensitive and insecure, as they often misinterpret or over-analyse situations. Their need to be loved and protected means they are sometimes unable to stand up for themselves. They tend to shy away from confrontation and are not confident decision-makers.

What will the year of the goat bring?

According to Chinese astrologers, luck within careers will fluctuate for those born in the year of the goat and their financial fortune will be average. However, they are said to possess a power to turn their fortune around – so that when things seem bleak, their luck may change. This year looks good for health.