Celebration of the Chinese New Year will begin Monday, marking the start of the year of the dragon. The holiday is the most important in China and will be met with scores of fireworks and festivities in China, Taiwan, and elsewhere.
Preparations have begun for the Chinese New Year festivities across the globe. In China, families clean their home, hang red banners with messages of good luck, pay respects to ancestors and begin to plan and prepare meals for Jan. 23. Many families will cover their homes with red paper lanterns and decorations signifying good fortune, wealth, longevity and happiness.
In addition, paintings and decorations of dragons cover Chinese cities as the nation prepares for the New Year. Dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and folklore. Chinese dragons are auspicious creatures that symbolize power, strength and good luck. Historically, dragons were the symbol of the Emperor of China and the mythical creature is seen as a symbol of imperial power. In the Chinese zodiac system, dragon years are the most popular years for families to have children and more babies are born in dragon years than in any other year.
Cities across the U.S. will also celebrate the 2012 Chinese New Year. In New York City, Asian Americans will celebrate the year of the dragon with the Lunar New Year Parade and Festival on Jan. 29 in Chinatown and a similar parade on Feb. 4 in Flushing, Queens. In San Francisco, a city rich in Chinese food and culture, the New Year will be honored with a flower market on Jan. 14 and 15, a 5k and 10k run on Feb. 19 and a parade celebration at the San Francisco Zoo on Jan. 29.
Take a look at these pictures and photos of decorations in preparation of the Year of the Dragon.
A dragon decoration is displayed at a park to celebrate Chinese New Year in Guangzhou REUTERS
Bengali White Tiger cubs, dressed in traditional Chinese clothes for the upcoming Spring Festival, are seen eating inside their cage at a zoo in Qingdao, Shandong province. The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begins on Jan. 23 and marks the start of the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac. REUTERS/China Daily China Dail
Pedestrians walk past an art piece with images of a dragon and other Chinese Zodiac figures created by cutting patterns in paper as part of Lunar New Year celebrations at a shopping mall in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begins on Jan. 23 and marks the start of the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac. REUTERS/China Daily China Dail
A worker paints the background of a wall, installed with nine sugar dragons, during preparation work for the upcoming Lunar New Year at a park in Chengdu, Sichuan province. REUTERS
A dragon lantern is seen among other Chinese New Year decorations at Yuyuan Garden in downtown Shanghai. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
A dragon-themed dish is seen among other dishes during a grand feast at Baibuting residential area in Wuhan, Hubei province. Residents brought about 10,000 self-cooked dishes to the 12th Grand Feast to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year. REUTERS/Darley Shen
Visitors walk past dragon-shaped lanterns set up for the upcoming Spring Festival in Xi'an, Shaanxi province. REUTERS/China Daily China Dail