Celebrating Lunar New Year around the world

Chinese Lunar New Year begins Sunday, according to the lunisolar calendar. And this year it’s the Year of the Rabbit — one of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac.

Observed by over a billion people worldwide, the major holiday, also known as Spring Festival, is not only celebrated by people of Chinese descent but also those of East Asian cultures.

With China lifting its zero COVID policy last month, many are traveling to visit family for the first time since the pandemic began. Here’s a look at how people are marking the new year, traditionally a time for family gatherings, feasts and fireworks.

Mass movement of people

Travelers wait for trains at a packed Shanghai Hongqiao Railway Station during the peak travel rush ahead of Lunar New Year in mid-January.

(Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Passengers board a train at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul on Friday.

People board a train in Seoul ahead of Lunar New Year.

(Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press)

Hanging red lanterns

Red lanterns, a symbol of hope and a brighter future, are ubiquitous this time of year. Here, a man walks past trees decorated with lanterns at a park in Beijing on Friday.

A man wearing a face mask walks past trees decorated with lanterns ahead of Lunar New Year in Beijing.

(Mark Schiefelbein/The Associated Press)

Drivers wait on a street decorated with lanterns in Bangkok’s Chinatown on Thursday.

Vehicles idle beneath a street decorated by red lanterns ahead of Lunar New Year in Bangkok.

(Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

A man walks by festive lanterns in Taipei, Taiwan, on Wednesday.

A man walks by lantern decorations ahead of Lunar New Year in Taipei, Taiwan.

(Sam Ye/AFP/Getty Images)

Visiting temples

Worshipers light incense and offer prayers, believed to bring good luck for the year, at the International Buddhist Temple in Richmond, BC, on Friday.

A woman burns incense and prays at a Buddhist temple in Richmond, BC, to mark Lunar New Year.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

A woman burns incense and offers prayers to mark the Lunar New Year at a Buddhist temple in Richmond, BC

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

A man prays in Manila, Philippines, on Jan. 14.

A man offers prayers in front of a niche on a street in Manila's Chinatown.

(Kevin Tristan Espiritu/AFP/Getty Images)

Holiday preps

People browse for ornaments at a shop in Manila on Friday.

Shoppers browse for ornaments at a shop in Manila's Chinatown ahead of Lunar New Year.

(Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)

Women shop for decorations at a market in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Jan. 12.

Shoppers browse for Lunar New Year decorations at a market in Jakarta's Chinatown.

(Tatan Syuflana/The Associated Press)

Year of the Cat, too

Kim Phan Nguyễn-Stone, pictured with her daughter in Vancouver, is excited about marking the Lunar New Year. They are among the many Vietnamese Canadians celebrating the arrival of Tết Quý Mao (Year of the Cat).

A mother with her eight-year-old daughter at their home with a wall decorated to celebrate Lunar New Year, which in Vietnam marks the Year of the Cat.

(Ben Nelms/CBC)

Like the Chinese, the Vietnamese lunar calendar runs on a 12-year cycle, with each year corresponding to a zodiac animal. Here, people enjoy ice cream next to a large cat statue in Hanoi, Vietnam, on Tuesday.

People sit near a giant statue of a cat in Hanoi ahead of Lunar New Year.

(Nhac Nguyen/AFP/Getty Images)

In Victoria, James Le, who holds a cat figurine — a gift from his mother — says the zodiac animal is an important part of their identity.

A man holding a cat figurine in a closeup outside in Victoria.

(Mike McArthur/CBC)

Gifting fruits

Tangerines, clementines and kumquats are traditionally given for prosperity and good health. Here, customers shop for tangerine trees in Hong Kong.

Customers shop for tangerine trees ahead of the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong.

(Tyrone Siu/Reuters)

People walk past tangerine trees for sale in Manila’s Chinatown district on Jan. 14.

An Asian family walks by tangerine plants for sale.

(Kevin Tristan Espiritu/AFP/Getty Images)

Pastries and snacks

The Lunar New Year’s Eve meal is considered the most important meal of the year. Here, a vendor sells traditional Chinese snacks in Yangon’s Chinatown district in Myanmar ahead of the holiday.

A vendor sells traditional snacks in Yangon's Chinatown in Myanmar ahead of the Lunar New Year.

(AFP/Getty Images)

Snacks are laid out for a celebration in Charlottetown on Jan. 15 where about 500 people gathered.

Food is displayed at a buffet for Lunar New Year in Charlottetown where about 500 people gathered.

(Tony Davis/CBC)

A worker packs a new year gift box with traditional pastries at a Daoxiangcun, one of the best-known Chinese bakeries in Beijing, on Jan. 14.

A shop worker packs a box of traditional pastries at a bakery in Beijing.

(Caroline Chen/The Associated Press)

Lion dances

An important tradition, a lion dance is said to bring prosperity and good luck for the coming year. Young people perform a lion dance at Pondok Indah shopping mall in Jakarta on Friday.

Young people perform a lion dance at a mall ahead of Lunar New Year in Jakarta, Indonesia.

(Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters)

The Vancouver Lion Dance Association performs Lunar New Year routines choreographed to portray a lion’s quest.

Two lion costumes--one yellow and one red--rehearse a lion dance routine for Lunar New Year.

(Mike Zimmer/CBC)

A dragon dance performance is seen in Bangkok earlier this week.

People perform in a lion dance ahead of Lunar New Year in Bangkok.

(Athit Perawongmetha/Reuters)

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