Siyang Chou plays the traditional pipa at the Chinese New Year Festival in Casino Helsinki on January 24, 2020. Picture: Tony Öhberg for Finland Today / Click to view gallery

The Casino Helsinki showroom lit up in red as members of the Finland-China Artists Association took the stage to celebrate the Year of the Metal Rat on Friday night.

Guests gathered at tables to enjoy food and wine were entertained by performances of various Chinese arts, including Tai Chi, folk songs, pipa playing and poetry recitation.

Friday marked the beginning of the Year of the Metal Rat in the Chinese Zodiac, and those born in 2020 are considered very lucky. Rats are industrious, ambitious and thrifty.

In the traditional stories about the animals that make up the Chinese zodiac, the little rat ran ahead of the other animals to become the first of the zodiac. This urge to move quickly is characteristic of people born under this sign; they want to arrive first and be noticed.