Welcome to the Year of the Goat

Happy Chinese new year to you, and a very warm welcome to the Year of the Goat (or Sheep or Ram, depending on who you speak to).

This year the new year festival began on 19th February and will run through to 5th March, though as these dates are based on the lunar calendar, they change slightly each year. As for this Goat (or Sheep or Ram) business, this is based on the 12 animal symbols of the Chinese zodiac, and this year it's the turn of the Goat (or Sheep etc). Those born this year, it's said, are likely to be particularly charming, elegant and artistic!

Chinese new year ushers out the winter, encourages the letting go of bad feelings and grudges, and is a lovely, lively and colourful festival with a strong emphasis on family. So how do people celebrate in China? As I say, the emphasis is on being with loved ones, meeting with neighbours and generally spending time together. Red, said to be an auspicious colour, is used in decorations both indoors and out, culminating on the final day of the festival in a red lantern festival. Other traditions include the giving of money in red envelopes, dragon dances, the letting off of fire crackers, and eating food such as whole fish (said to be lucky) and dumplings.

Famous Goats include Michelangelo, Joni Mitchell, Muhammad Ali, Julia Roberts, Bill Gates and Nicole Kidman.

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