26 Dazzling Chinese New Year Photos From Celebrations Around The World

This year, Thursday, February 19 marks the beginning of the Chinese calendar year, also known as Chinese New Year. Like New Year celebrations in Western cultures, it's a major holiday that comes with major festivities, but there are other elements to the centuries-old holiday that make it unique. Chinese New Year, also called the Lunar New Year, is not only a celebration of the upcoming year, but it's also a time to reflect on the past and honor one's ancestors. And in addition to the partying, there's a familial element at the core of the holiday.

Every year, Chinese families celebrate Chinese New Year by observing certain traditions. Houses are cleaned to sweep away bad luck and to make way for good fortune, while red-colored decorations that read "good fortune," "prosperity," "happiness," and "longevity" also reflect this theme. On Chinese New Year's Eve, families will gather for a big reunion dinner, where the adults hand the children red envelopes filled with money. Unlike the New Year that we know in the U.S., Chinese New Year falls on a different day each year between January 21 and February 20, depending on the lunisolar calendar. Usually, it falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Each year also corresponds with one of the 12 animals from the Chinese zodiac. This New Year ushers in the year of the sheep, an auspicious animal known to be kind and peaceful and signifying prosperity. Individuals born during the year of the sheep are believed to also share these qualities. Because there are 12 animals, the next year of the sheep will be in 2027. Chinese New Year is arguably the biggest holiday in China, with some taking off weeks from work to prepare and celebrate, but it's also observed around the world, from other Asian countries like Singapore and Thailand to just about anywhere with a Chinese diaspora (think anywhere with a Chinatown). No matter where it's being celebrated, one thing is for sure: Chinese New Year is a dazzling feast for your eyes.

Dragon

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Chinese New Year celebrations will often include dragon motifs. Here, performers do a dragon dance in Beijing.

Incense

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Many also burn incense to honor their ancestors.

Lanterns

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Here a woman prays under a ceiling of red lanterns.

Dancing

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Elaborate costumes and dance performances are part of every Chinese New Year’s festivities.

Red

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Many people will wear red, which symbolizes wealth and fortune, for the holiday.

Street Dragons

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All over the world there will be dragons in the streets.

Street Celebrations

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Celebrators pour into the streets for the big day.

Sheep Headgear

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These two reference the year of the sheep with some adorable head gear.

Lanterns

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Lanterns are another popular decoration.

Dazzling Decorations

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This woman is in awe of all the decorations.

Incredible Colors

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Red and gold look vibrant against a clear blue sky.

Dancing

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These dancers are going with an underwater theme.

Imagery

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Everywhere in China, you’ll see sheep/goat/ram motifs.

Artwork

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… and surreal art installations.

Dancing

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Synchronized dancers perform in traditional garb.

Temples

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Visiting temples is also a big tradition for Chinese New Year.

Children's Holidays

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Chinese New Year is a favorite holiday for kids, not only because they get red envelopes stuffed with cash. The firecrackers, dragons, and lanterns are an all-out sensory overload for little ones.

Dragons

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Festivalgoers stop to take a picture of an elaborate dragon.

Giant Floats

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These giant dragons are really a sight to behold.

Even Bigger Dragons

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Sometimes they’re hundreds of feet long and require whole teams to man.

Fireworks

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And they pair perfectly with sparkling fireworks.

Sheep

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A woman takes a selfie with multicolored sheep as her backdrop.

Prayer

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Worshipers hold up incense when praying to the gods.

Incense Burning

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This woman burns incense at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing.

Dragons

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Another dragon roams the streets on Chinese New Year.