Chinese new year Hong Kong
Fireworks explode over Victoria Harbour to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in Hong Kong Reuters

People around the world have begun celebrating the official start of Chinese New Year.

Chinese new year London
A dragon is carried during a parade in London Reuters/Neil Hall

The precise date of the new year varies according to the date of the first new moon of the calendar year.

Chinese new year Australia 3
A performer in traditional Chinese opera makeup in Sydney, Australia Reuters/Jason Reed

There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac: the rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig.

Chinese new year China
A woman prays in front of a red lantern at a temple fair in Beijing Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

There are five elements: earth, water, fire, wood and metal.

Chinese new year Australia
Ballerinas wearing horse heads wait on the kerb of a street in Sydney Reuters/Jason Reed

Consequently the Chinese calendar is composed of 60 different signs. 2014 is the Year of the Wooden Horse.

Chinese new year London
Revelers dressed in costumes in London's China Town Reuters/Neil Hall

Thousands turned out in London's China Town to celebrate the new year.

Chinese new year Cuba
Cubans perform a lion dance during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Havana's Chinatown Reuters