Preparations are taking place around the world for the Chinese New Year, a festival celebrated with parades, food, gifts and parties.

The date of the festival, also known as the Lunar New Year or the Spring Festival, is determined by the lunisolar Chinese calendar – in which each month is two days shorter than a month in the solar calendar, so an extra month is added every few years. This means the date changes every year but generally falls between 21 January and 20 February.

This year, the New Year starts on 28 January and ends on the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese calendar, with a celebration called the Lantern Festival. London hosts one of the biggest Chinese New Year events outside China – a grand parade through the capital's West End with music, acrobatics and pyrotechnics.

What year is it?

This year will usher in the year of the rooster, one of the 12 animals which appear in the Chinese zodiac. The zodiac attaches animal signs to each lunar year in a cycle of 12 years and it is separated into 12 blocks, with each having a lifespan of one year.

The rooster is the 10th animal in the cycle, followed by the dog in 2018 and the pig in 2019.

It is thought that zodiac animals originated from the Han Dynasty, when 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
A Malaysian woman takes a selfie under a giant rooster installation in Kuala Lumpur Manan Vatsyayana/AFP/Getty Images

The Chinese zodiac signs are determined by the year in which you were born, which some believe affects your personality and future. According to Chinese mythology, people born under the sign of the rooster are said to be trustworthy, hard-working and sociable but also shameless attention-seekers.

Which Chinese zodiac sign were you born under?

Rat: 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960

Ox: 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961

Tiger: 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962

Rabbit: 2011, 1999, 1987, 1975, 1963

Dragon: 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964

Snake: 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965

Horse: 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966

Sheep: 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967

Monkey: 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968

Rooster: 2017, 2005, 1993, 1981, 1969

Dog: 2018, 2006, 1994, 1982, 1970

Pig: 2019, 2007, 1995, 1983, 1971

Chinese New Year
London's Chinese New Year parade in 2016 Stuart C Wilson/Getty Images