Chinese New Year 2012 will be celebrated on Monday, Jan. 23, marking the beginning of the year of the water dragon and the 4709th year of the Chinese calendar. The holiday is the most important in China and will be met with scores of fireworks and festivities in China, Taiwan and across the globe.

Preparations have begun for the Chinese New Year festivities across the globe. In China, families clean their home, hang red banners with messages of good luck, pay respects to ancestors and begin to plan and prepare meals for Jan. 23. Many families will cover their homes with red paper lanterns and decorations signifying good fortune, wealth, longevity and happiness.

Moreover, China will celebrate the national holiday for the week of Jan. 23 to Jan. 27. Equity markets in Hong Kong and China will be closed as the country rings in the Lunar New Year.

Cities across the U.S. will also celebrate the 2012 Chinese New Year. In New York City, Asian Americans will celebrate the year of the dragon with the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival on Jan. 29 in Chinatown and a similar parade on Feb. 4 in Flushing, Queens. In San Francisco, a city rich in Chinese food and culture, the New Year will be honored with a flower market on Jan. 14 and 15, a 5k and 10k run on Feb. 19 and a parade celebration at the San Francisco Zoo on Jan. 29.