On January 25 millions of people will be celebrating Chinese New Year and the arrival of the Year of the Rat.

It is one of the largest celebrations on the planet with family visits, fireworks and food aplenty as people mark the Lunar New Year.

Chinese New Year - also known as the Spring Festival - is a celebration with numerous traditions and superstitions. These include not washing on New Year's Day - to avoid washing away wealth - and using plenty of brightly coloured decorations around the home in a bid to ward off evil spirits.

Included in the traditions is for the year to be named after a member of the animal zodiac. Last year it was the Year of the Pig, 2020 is the Year of the Rat.

How many animals make up the Chinese zodiac?

In total there are 12 animals which make up the Chinese zodiac. They are pig, dog, horse, snake, goat, rooster, monkey, tiger, ox, rabbit and dragon and rat.

These animals then rotate on a 12-year cycle. For example the last Year of the Rat was in 2008 while the next one will be in 2032.

2019 was the Year of the Pig with the next one due in 2031.

What's the story behind the Chinese zodiac?

The story as to why these animals make up the Chinese zodiac is another legend that surrounds the Lunar New Year.

The story goes that the Jade Emperor declared that the calendar years would be named after each animal in the order they reached him. To get to the Emperor the animals had to cross a river.

Two of the animals making the journey - Rat and Cat - could not swim so hitched a lift on the back of Ox to make it across. Cat is not in the list of animals in the Chinese zodiac because Rat pushed Cat into the water during the crossing.

Once over Rat then ran to the Emperor to win the race with Ox and Tiger finishing second and third respectively.

Following those three came Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig. The legend says that Pig was last after apparently becoming hungry mid-race and stopping to each before falling asleep and waking up to finish last.

What do the animals say about me?

As with Western astrology the animals that make up the zodiac are said to affect personality traits. Those born in the Year of the Rat are said to be popular and intelligent but can also be stubborn.

It's also said to be bad luck when someone meets their zodiac sign. So anyone born in a previous Year of the Rat (1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008) could be in for a rocky 2020.