Happy Chinese New Year!

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Yesterday the Lunar New year celebrations began around the world to mark the beginning of the new Chinese New Year – the Year of the Snake. The largest nation on Earth, or 1.3 billion Chinese, is now celebrating with their families and takes part in various festivities such as parades, fireworks, folk dancing and many others.

chinese-new-year-beijingAccording to the Chinese zodiac, the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, begins on February 10, marking the end of the Year of the Dragon and the start of the Year of the Snake. The Year of the Water Snake is a good omen for Ancient Chinese because the belief says that during it your family won’t starve. People in China often travel to reunite with their families and participate in different customs and practices such as the exchange of red envelopes with gifts, preparing the fireworks, and taking family portraits. Although the Lunar Year is observed as a public holiday only in several countries, People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Hong Kong and Macau, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, large festivities are held around the world.

Hong Kong parade is the largest of the Lunar Year festivities in the world featuring colourful floats and traditional dancing troupes from China and across the globe. This year’s evening parade at the Tsim Sha Tsui shopping district gathered participants from 14 countries and regions, including Russia, Australia, Peru, the Czech Republic and Thailand. People in various costumes blend in the hour-and-a-half extravaganza of dance, acrobatics, folklore, music and martial arts. Of course, the traditional colouful dragons and dragon dances can be seen often.

There are numerous parades and other celebrations throughout the whole South East Asia, but the biggest festivities are in Malaysia, in Penang and Klang. And in Singapore where the celebrations this year began with Singapore’s Sentosa Flowers Festival on February 4, and featured a 100 m long sand snake sculpture, forming the Chinese character Fortune.

The night skies in some cities in Canada were also lit with firecrackers – the Chinese community had the chance to celebrate the New Year at the Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario. Beating drums, dancing the Lion Dance, folk dances and arts were only a part of the event. There are a lot of Chinese communities in the United States where the New Year is celebrated but the oldest and largest event outside Asia is the San Francisco Chinese New year Festival and Parade. This year there were also major parades in New York City and Los Angeles, and others in Chicago, Seattle, and Houston.

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