Chinese New Year for 2014 is on the 31st of January: the Year of the Wood Horse.
In Chinese Astrology each sign is represented by an animal. There are 12 animal signs in total, each corresponding to a lunar year, with each sign also having 5 elements (Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal & Water). In certain years, particular elements are more prominent. For instance in 2009, the ‘Earth’ element is very prominent so therefore it is the Year of the Yin Earth Ox. The special combination of the Sign and Element only occurs once every 60 years.
As Chinese Astrology is one of the oldest types of Astrology, the origins of naming the years after animals is unknown. But a popular legend is that Buddha (c.563-c.483 B.C) invited all the animals to visit him, and as a demonstration of thanks to those who came, he dedicated a year to each of the animals according to the order in which they arrived: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Sheep, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig.