London: Over one billion people across Asia and beyond, have welcomed in the Chinese New Year, this year represented by the snake. In China, the traditional heart of what is also known as Chinese New Year, one fifth of the world``s population marked the close of the Year of the Dragon and the dawn of a new year with all the traditional fanfare, reports Sky News. The lunar calendar follows a 12-year cycle with 12 animals representing each year.
In Beijing, fireworks meant to ward off evil spirits, have been echoing in the skies for hours. Temple of the Earth Park in the city was transformed into a sea of red lanterns. The New Year gala is a long-standing institution in China.
Food and family are the two dominant themes for Chinese New Year.
There is significantly less affection for the snake than there was for last year`s rather more auspicious dragon. Fearful that the Year of the Snake might bring with it all that the slithering reptile represents, there has been a rush of weddings and attempts at carefully planned births to ensure they fell within the last year and not the coming one. In an attempt to overcome people`s suspicions, the toy snakes produced for the new year all seem to sport unusually happy or smiley faces. The less superstitious insist that the snake does have its value.
Some refer to the snake as the little dragon. It is said that children born in the year of the snake will be rational, organised and intelligent. As the Chinese middle class grows with more money to spend, many are opting to travel abroad for the break rather than to spend it with families. But for the traditionalists who have stayed at home and travelled to see families, the festivities will draw to a close at the end of the week with the traditional Lantern Festival.