The Year of the Goat is almost here. Wednesday was Chinese New Year's Eve, and millions of people across the world were preparing to kick off 40 days of celebration for the annual Spring Festival. Large ethnic populations in places like Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore held traditional reunion dinners Wednesday night ahead of midnight fireworks spectaculars, but a total of 119 countries had festivities planned, according to The Guardian.
Most decorations will be red, which is linked with happiness and prosperity in part because legends say Nian, the beast of the Chinese New Year, is afraid of the color. Children will receive money-filled red envelopes for good luck, and some kids will sleep with them under their pillows for extra good fortune.
Celebrations will also feature red paper lanterns of all sizes intended to drive off evil. People will release the lanterns en masse on March 5 for the 15th day of the new year, also called the Lantern Festival. Sending the lanterns into the sky is seen by some as a way to get rid of old stresses and start anew, according to Mental Floss.
Nearly 140 Chinese cities have prohibited fireworks shows due to air pollution and safety risks, but hundreds of street vendors were still selling them."Explosions will ring out for weeks," The Guardian reported.
Several events will showcase dragon dance ceremonies in which people put together a long dragon costume out of wood, fabric and paper. Underneath are poles that, when moved, create the illusion of a dragon gliding along to drum beats. The dragon dance is performed to ward off evil spirits.
Parades will also likely include sheep and goat characters in recognition of the zodiac sign for the new year. People born in sheep and goat years -- including 1919, 1931, 1943, 1967, 1979, 1991 and 2003 -- have peaceful personalities, according to the Independent. Their lucky colors include brown, purple and -- you guessed it --- red.
See photos below of people rehearsing and setting up for Chinese New Year activities: