FOR the next two weeks celebrations will be taking place, not only in Asia, but also across the UK as the Chinese New Year is ushered in.

There is no fixed date for China’s most important festival because it runs on the lunar calendar. But the memorable day normally falls between late January and February.

But yesterday marked the Year of the Dog.

Anyone born this year or in 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018, 2030, 2042 and 2054 will have the dog as their Chinese zodiac sign.

For those born in the Year of the Dog, you are meant to have honest and loyal characteristics.

Most people will also know that there are 11 other animals in the Chinese zodiac - monkey, rooster, rat, pig, ox, tiger, rabbit, snake, horse, goat or the mythical dragon.

The zodiac suggests those born in the Year of the Dog will get along with the tiger, rabbit and horse - but avoid those born in the year of the ox, dragon, goat and rooster.

Over the next two weeks, it is estimated that millions of people will flock to China to celebrate the New Year.

And having lived in China I can recall at first-hand experience of activities that take place during Chinese New Year.

Streets will be rammed with people celebrating, with some even hosting buffets.

With the colour red believed to bring good fortunate, it is not surprising to see people wearing red-coloured items and walls being painted the same colour. The skies will also be full of red-coloured Chinese lanterns.

But people can also have an equally fun-filled time celebrating the festival here in Gwent.

The manager of Pontypool-based takeaway Happy Wok, Lee Pao, said he and his family will be spending the next few days calling family and watching films.

“Originally I am from Fujin city - that is in northern China,” said Mr Lee.

“Today we are working but soon we will be celebrating New Year.

“We will be spending a few days calling family in China and wishing them all the best. We will also be watching a lot of films.”

He added: “It is exciting.”

Workers at Jasmine Rice Takeaway, in Newport will also be celebrating.

Fu Heru, who lives in Commercial Road, said she will be watching Chinese programmes on CCTV.

“We enjoy celebrating Chinese New Year,” she said.

“CCTV is a Chinese TV station and we will be watching programmes.

“I hope everyone has a good Chinese New Year.”

Claire Dong, who was born in Beijing, lived in Newport before recently returning to China.

The 30-year-old said she had “nice” memories of celebrating Chinese New Year in the city.

“I was a student at university when I moved to UK,” she said.

“When New Year was approaching I felt homesick because I felt I needed to be back in China. I thought I was going to miss out on what we normally do at New Year.

“I was wrong because it was nice.”

Miss Dong added: “I enjoyed my New Year in Newport. It was fun.

“We ate a lot of traditional Chinese food and watched Chinese films.

“That is what I will be doing in China too. I will also go to a street party.”

Tini Zhao, who lived with Miss Dong, said she was “excited” because she was born in the year of the dog.

“The year of the dog is my year,” she said.

“The animals are important to us, like in other festivals.

“The best thing with the New Year is all of us being together. We all live busy lives so forget to spend more time with each other – the New Year brings us together.”

Mandarin teacher Jaycee Lao also lived with friends in Newport, before returning to Jiangsu province late last year.

Mrs Lao had previously celebrated Chinese New Year in Newport for the last six years.

“This is the first time in years that I will not be in the UK celebrating New Year,” she said.

“I was a student at Cardiff University for six years studying English.”

Mrs Lao said she was a member of the Chinese Newport Community Centre – which is a small group consisting of both local people and Chinese expatriates – when she was living in the city.

“I celebrated one Chinese New Year with the group,” she said.

“We ate traditional Chinese food, like dumplings.

“I had fun with the group at New Year.”

The Argus previously reported that more than 80 people filled the Chinese Community Centre, in Queen’s Hill, to take part in Chinese New Year celebrations in 2016.

Among the array of activities to take place were Tai Chi dancing, a raffle and a large buffet.

Mao Ling, who manages the centre, previously spoke of how the centre and occasions like this are all about bringing “local Chinese people together”.

The group will be holding a celebratory party on Tuesday, 20 from 12 noon to 2.30pm to mark the new year.