Chinese New Year celebrations began throughout the world on Sunday. Colorful parades and spectacular fireworks will usher in the Year of Dragon, which symbolizes courage and prosperity.
New Year is the most important holiday in China. Millions of people take part in festivities lasting 15 days, with extravagant parades and other cultural performances.
Another famous tradition of the holiday, also known as Spring Festival, is the little red envelopes given to children on the first day of the New Year containing money from their parents, grandparents and other relatives.
Outside China, the holiday is widely celebrated in South-East Asia with the largest celebration taking place in Singapore.
In Western cities with significant Chinese populations the holiday is celebrated too. New York, San Francisco, Vancouver, Toronto and Los Angeles see large Chinese New Year parades with fireworks. In Sydney, more than 600,000 people attend the celebrations in Chinatown.
The holiday does not fall on the same day every year. The Chinese follow a lunisolar calendar, so the New Year always changes, its date falling either at the end of January or the beginning of February.
According to the Chinese Zodiac, the upcoming year is the Year of Dragon which comes after the Year of Rabbit and is followed by the Year of Snake. Among the 12 animals of the Chinese Zodiac, the Dragon is the only imaginary animal.