China welcomed the Year of the Dragon with great celebrations and fireworks. At around 5 p.m. German time, midnight in the People's Republic, people in the country with around 1.4 billion inhabitants celebrated the New Year.
The Spring Festival follows the lunar calendar, which means that the Year of the Rabbit ends. The dragon is a popular zodiac symbol in China. Superstition has it that it represents strength and good luck, which is why dragon years are popular in China for having children.
Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, is the most important holiday in China. It is also celebrated in other Asian countries such as Vietnam, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, Taiwan and Indonesia.
Traditionally, people in China travel home to their families, which is why a large wave of travel hits the country around New Year's Day. The holidays are important sources of income for tourism. The struggling Chinese economy in particular can really use consumption. Unlike usual, this time an unusually strong onset of winter in central China caused major problems for travel.
The defining color of the Spring Festival is red - the question of happiness. People in China usually decorate their front doors with it and hope that prosperity and happiness will come to their home. Popular gifts are red envelopes containing money.
As always, millions of viewers watched the traditional New Year's gala on state television. During the day, state radio news channel CCTV 13 reported on celebrations across the country. Soldiers sent New Year's greetings from the sea or remote areas on land. The current crew of the Chinese space station greeted from space.