Fireworks could be heard in some areas of the UK late on Monday night, to mark the Lunar New Year.
Loud bangs were reported on social media across the UK, from people in Plymouth, Cardiff, London, Liverpool and Glasgow to name but a few.
It may well have been because people from Asian communities around the country are celebrating Lunar New Year – or Chinese New Year – which falls on Tuesday, February 1.
This year’s event marks the start of the Year of the Tiger.
The Lunar New Year is the most important annual holiday in China.
Each year is named after one of 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac in a repeating cycle. The Year of the Tiger follows the Year of the Ox.
During the Lunar New Year festival, homes are festooned with red paper lanterns and families gather to share sumptuous feasts, enjoying symbolic dishes such as dumplings, representing gold ingots, and noodles, denoting long life.
In China itself, some 260 million people traveled in the country in the first 10 days of the holiday rush starting on January 17 – fewer than before the coronavirus pandemic but up 46% over last year.
Overall, the government forecasts 1.2 billion trips during the holiday season, up 36% from a year ago.
This year the celebrations coincide with the Beijing Winter Olympics, which open near the end of the week-long holiday.
With the Year of the Tiger, many are hoping the traditional powers attributed to the animal will help put China on a path out of the pandemic, said Chen Lianshan, a Beijing university expert on Chinese folklore.
“The tiger is a protection against evil spirits and it can defeat demons and ghosts of all kinds, and the Chinese believe that the plague is one kind of an evil spirit,” he said.
According to tradition, a person born in a particular year takes on the traits of that year’s animal.
By this logic, babies born in 2022 will take on the characteristics of the tiger – the third in the 12-animal Chinese zodiac cycle.
Tigers also were born in 2010, 1998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950 and so on.
Edgar Lok Tin Yung, a Feng Shui expert and astrologer based in Melbourne, Australia, said: “Tigers are brave, value independence and have a strong sense of justice.
“Sometimes they can be silent but deadly.”
Manchester United star Cristiano Ronaldo and partner Georgina Rodriguez are preparing to welcome twins in 2022 so both will be tigers.
Kylie Jenner and Travis Scott are also expecting their second child this year – another 2022 tiger.
Other famous tigers include Shawn Mendes, Jaden Smith and Elle Fanning – all born in 1998.
Drake, Lady Gaga and Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen are all 1986 tigers.
Meanwhile, Victoria Beckham, Leonardo DiCaprio, Olivia Colman, Matt Lucas, Dominic Raab and Bear Grylls are all tigers born in 1974.
Eddie Izzard, Phillip Schofield and Demi Moore were all born in 1962 while Princess Anne, Stevie Wonder and Bill Murray are 1950 tigers.
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