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A Rousing Welcome for the Rooster
Chinese New Year falls on 28 January, marking the start of the Year of the Rooster. During the celebrations, the streets are festooned with red lanterns, red envelopes containing money are handed out to children, and the traditional Lion Dance welcomes in the New Year.
The main celebrations in central London are planned for Sunday 29 January, with activities in and around Chinatown and the West End, and special menus served at some of the capital's 100 Chinese restaurants.
A colourful Chinese parade weaves its way through the streets of the West End, followed by stage performances in Trafalgar Square, with dance troupes, acrobats, opera, martial arts and the traditional dragon and lion dances. (The lion is operated by two dancers, while the dragon is held on poles and operated by several performers.) The spectacular show ends with a grand finale to usher in the New Year - see VisitLondon for details.
Each year in the Chinese zodiac is related to an animal sign in a 12-year cycle - the animals in order are: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The legend goes that the Emperor of the Heavens decided to hold a race and the first 12 animals to arrive would be made guardians of the gates of Heaven. The animals set off and the ox was leading, but the crafty rat, who had hitched a lift on the ox's back, jumped out in front at the last minute, so ended up winning the race.
The Rooster, which is the tenth animal in the zodiac, will rule the roost from January 28th until February 15th, 2018. The shape of China on a map is sometimes compared to a rooster, so this could be seen as an auspicious sign for the country in the year ahead. Years of the Rooster are 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017, and the next one will be 2029. Qualities associated with the sign are resourcefulness, courage, talent, sociability and self-confidence.