Chinese New Year in London: How is the Lunar New Year celebrated and what is my Chinese zodiac sign?

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Chinatown has gone to town on its decorations and festivities for the new Lunar New Year.
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Ee Vi Lim and Hwee Ru Kom joked: “Every time Chinese New Year comes around, you gain at least two kilograms because of all the good food you eat.”

The students explained that they enjoy the celebrations as families get together and have a good time.

The Lord Mayor of Westminster attended Chinatown to experience the special night market.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) receives a cup of tea during a visit of the Chinese Information And Advice Centre while taking part in the celebrations on the occasion of the Lunar New Year . Credit: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool /Getty ImagesCamilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) receives a cup of tea during a visit of the Chinese Information And Advice Centre while taking part in the celebrations on the occasion of the Lunar New Year . Credit: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool /Getty Images
Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall (R) receives a cup of tea during a visit of the Chinese Information And Advice Centre while taking part in the celebrations on the occasion of the Lunar New Year . Credit: Justin Tallis - WPA Pool /Getty Images | Getty Images

Cllr Andrew Smith said: “It’s a great opportunity for the Chinese community and anyone else to celebrate the festivities.”

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visited Chinatown to enjoy the celebrations.

Another pair of revellers said: “Chinatown is always so beautifully decorated and welcoming and it brings the atmosphere of Chinese New Year.

“New Year’s Eve is the same as Christmas Eve, you are happy when you are with your family.”

Each year on the Chinese calendar is linked to one of 12 zodiac animals, each with their own specific characteristics, similar to how each month of the Gregorian calendar is linked to a zodiac in other countries.

This year, celebrations will herald the Year of the Tiger.

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The pair explained: “The tiger is alert and on the go and it’s going to be a roaring year.”

Here is everything you need to know about it.

People take selfies in Chinatown ahead of Chinese New Year. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty ImagesPeople take selfies in Chinatown ahead of Chinese New Year. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images
People take selfies in Chinatown ahead of Chinese New Year. Credit: Hollie Adams/Getty Images | Getty Images

What is the Chinese zodiac?

“Unlike the Western zodiac, which is based on 12 months, the Chinese zodiac is based on a 12-year cycle with each year being attributed to a representative animal,” says astrologist Julie Chandler of soul-focus.co.uk.

The zodiac system has existed in Chinese culture for more than 2,000 years, and over time, has become more ingrained in daily life, having meanings and characteristics assigned to each animal.

“Those born under that animal are said to embody their characteristics and it’s taken very seriously in China,” says Chandler, “to the point of babies being planned to coincide with the traditionally luckiest year, that of the Dragon, and avoid the unluckier year of the Goat.”

(Image: NationalWorld/JPIMedia)(Image: NationalWorld/JPIMedia)
(Image: NationalWorld/JPIMedia) | NationalWorld/JPIMedia

The twelve animals are:

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  • Rat
  • Ox
  • Tiger
  • Rabbit
  • Dragon
  • Snake
  • Horse
  • Goat
  • Monkey
  • Rooster
  • Dog
  • Pig

The cycle is based on an old folk tale called the Great Race, in which all twelve animals take part in a race to reach the Jade Emperor - the order they completed the race is the order in which the years are named.

The Rat won out against the bigger animals by catching a ride on the back of the Ox and then jumping off its back at the last minute.

This means the Ox, who had been due to win the race, had to settle for second place and the others fill in the places behind, with the Pig coming last.

Which Chinese Zodiac animal am I?

A young Chinese boy plays with  a toy tiger doll (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)A young Chinese boy plays with  a toy tiger doll (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images)
A young Chinese boy plays with a toy tiger doll (Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images) | AFP via Getty Images

A quick google will tell you whether you’re a rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog, or pig.

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However, we’ve grouped together the recent years on which each animal fell for even easier reference:

  • Rat - 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008, 2020
  • Ox - 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021
  • Tiger - 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010, 2022
  • Rabbit - 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011, 2023
  • Dragon - 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012, 2024
  • Snake - 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013, 2025
  • Horse - 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014, 2026
  • Goat - 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015, 2027
  • Monkey - 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016, 2028
  • Rooster - 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, 2029
  • Dog - 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030
  • Pig - 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019, 2031

What does the Year of the Tiger mean?

If your age is a multiple of 12 this year, you fall under the Tiger sign, known to be king of all beasts in China.

People born in the Year of the Tiger are brave, competitive, unpredictable, and confident. Confident, charming and well liked, they sometimes possess a stubborn personality too.

The Year of the Tiger previously fell in 2010, 1986, 1974, 1962, and so on.

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“The Year of the Tiger will carry the qualities of the Chinese tiger sign throughout the year,” says astrologer Inbaal Honigman. “This year is therefore likely to be another fiery year!”

People born in a tiger year will “feel right at home during their birth year – the energies outside will match their reality on the inside,” she continues.

“They’ll enjoy whatever challenges the year might throw at them.”

Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday, February 1 this year and supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda have plenty of meal deals to help people celebrate the advent of the Year of the Tiger (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday, February 1 this year and supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda have plenty of meal deals to help people celebrate the advent of the Year of the Tiger (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
Chinese New Year falls on Tuesday, February 1 this year and supermarkets including Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrisons and Asda have plenty of meal deals to help people celebrate the advent of the Year of the Tiger (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

However, one should also be wary of being quick to celebrate if the Year of the Tiger is “your” year.

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According to Chinese astrology, the year you are born is supposed to be the unluckiest for you, so people born in previous Tiger years may face bad luck in 2022.

Edgar Lok Tin Yung, a Feng Shui expert and astrologer based in Australia, has said that Tigers will face “big pressure from every direction” at work.

Women born in 1986 and 1998 are also warned to “take care of your love life”.

Tigers working in the media, education, publication, and training sectors “will have a very good year to come,” Yung added.

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However, they could also be hit by health conditions to their arms, gallbladder, hairs, nerves, and lungs, he said.

What about people who weren’t born in a tiger year?

As for the other 11 Chinese zodiac signs, they may struggle more in 2022.

“Tiger energies are very focused, determined and geared towards achievement,” says Honigman. “If you’re not used to thinking on your feet – expect the unexpected!

“Other active signs, such as Horses and Dragons, will find their feet very easily. The more home-loving signs, like Rabbits and Goats, will want to remain quiet until they’ve figured out the lay of the land.”

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