Chinese Lunar New Year

Tomorrow, February 17th, is observed as the Lantern Festival - the 15th and final day of Chinese Lunar New Year festivities. The holiday is the most important annual celebration in China, when the nation largely shuts down as families gather together for reunions and feasts. More than 2.5 billion passenger trips by air, rail, bus or sea are taken around the holiday, according to the Chinese government. The Lantern Festival, or Yuan Xiao Jie, will complete the welcoming of the Year of the Rabbit - from the Chinese zodiac, indicating a year of caution and calm, with a quiet underlying strength and determination. Below are images of festivities from around the world for this year's Lunar New Year. [33 photos total]

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A folk artist pauses while waiting for to perform at a temple fair celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year at Dongyue Temple in Beijing, February 7, 2011. The Lunar New Year began on February 3, and ends on February 17th. starting of the Year of the Rabbit, according to the Chinese zodiac. (REUTERS/Jason Lee) #
A man works on the top of decorative red lanterns ahead of the New Year celebrations in Beijing on December 30, 2010. (REUTERS/Jason Lee) #
Performers are seen during the "Chingay Parade", a multicultural street performance, Friday Feb. 11, 2011 in Singapore. This parade is part of the Chinese new year celebrations. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) #
Participants perform a dragon dance during a Chinese New Year celebration in Vina del Mar city, about 121 km (75 miles) northwest of Santiago, Chile on February 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Eliseo Fernandez) #
Onlookers watch the 12th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade on February 06, 2011 in New York City. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images) #
The top of the Empire State Building stands lit in red and yellow lights to celebrate Chinese Lunar New Year in New York City on February 2, 2011. (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson) #
A man walks by snow covered red lanterns hung on a tree outside Ditan Park in Beijing Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
Fireworks explode across the Chinese capital as residents mark the passing of midnight into the Chinese New Year in Beijing, China, Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan) #
This photo taken on February 9, 2011 shows thousands of passengers carrying their belongings walking out of a railway station as they return to work after the Lunar New Year holidays in Wuhan, central China's Hubei province. (STR/AFP/Getty Images) #
People release sky lanterns to celebrate the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival in Pingxi, Taipei County February 12, 2011. Believers gathered to release the sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. (REUTERS/Nicky Loh) #
An elderly Chinese man looks at lanterns displayed outside a shopping mall in Beijing, China on Monday, Feb. 14, 2011. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) #
Visitors wearing rabbit ear headbands watch a night parade held to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong February 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Tyrone Siu) #
A child performer in traditional costumes rehearses for the upcoming Lantern Festival at a park in Taiyuan, Shanxi province on February 11, 2011. (REUTERS/Stringer) #
A Taiwanese man offers prayers at the Longshan temple to welcome the Chinese lunar new year in Taipei, Taiwan on Wednesday, Feb. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Wally Santana) #
Haiqi Vargas watches dancers listening to their director before performing the traditional Chinese Lion Dance during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Havana, Cuba on Thursday Feb. 3, 2011. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes) #
Fireworks light up Victoria Harbor during Lunar New Year celebrations in Hong Kong on February 4, 2011. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images) #
A worker lays out newly-made red lanterns to dry at a lantern factory in Jishan county, Shanxi province December 27, 2010. (REUTERS/Stringer) #
An artist performs fire breathing at Xuanwu Lake Park to greet the Chinese New Year on February 2, 2011 in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province of China. (ChinaFotoPress/Getty Images) #
People hold incense as they pray to mark the Lunar New Year at Petak Sembilan temple in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Beawiharta) #
Performers form a human pyramid, also known as "dieluohan", on the third day of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Baixiang village of Wuhu, Anhui province, February 5, 2011. The local form of human pyramid needs 18 people, including two infants to pile on top, local media reported. (REUTERS/Stringer) #
A man lights firecrackers outside a shop on the first day back at work after the Chinese New Year holidays in Taipei, Taiwan on February 8, 2011. (REUTERS/Pichi Chuang) #
Villagers stand to form a smiling face in a field to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year, during a photo opportunity in Xiluoyin village of Yangqu county, Shanxi province on February 12, 2011. (REUTERS/Stringer) #
A lion dancer looks out from inside his mask awaiting a performance beneath decorative red lanterns at the Temple of the Earth (Ditan Park) on the eve of the Lunar New Year in Beijing, China on February 2, 2011. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images) #
Hundreds of Buddhists rush to place incense sticks in an urn at a local Chinese Buddhist temple on Thursday Feb. 3, 2011 in Singapore. Every year, hundreds of Buddhist believers gather at a temple where they vie to place their joss sticks in an urn at midnight marking an auspicious start to the Chinese lunar new year. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E) #
Dancers of China's Gansu province Opera Ensemble perform during the Dunhuang Melody show at the National Theater in Bucharest, Romania on Friday night, Feb. 11, 2011. The show, which is on a 50 countries tour, is organized to celebrate the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Rabbit which started on Feb. 3. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda) #
Fireworks light the night sky over Beijing on the eve of the Lunar New Year on February 2, 2011. (PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images) #
Firecrackers go off next to people during a special exhibition event of Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival, as part of the Chinese Lantern Festival or "Yuan Xiao Jie", in Taipei, Taiwan on February 12, 2011. It is believed by locals that bad luck will go away after one is 'bombed' with beehive firecrackers, a tradition that has evolved into a huge tourist attraction. (REUTERS/Pichi Chuang) #
Onlookers shoot confetti into the air during the 12th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade on February 06, 2011 in New York City. (Michael Nagle/Getty Images) #
Worshipers light incense on the first day of Chinese New Year at Wuquanshan temple in Lanzhou, China on February 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Aly Song) #
A woman prays for good fortune as she holds burning incense on the fourth day of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Yonghegong Lama Temple in Beijing on February 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Jason Lee) #
Participants perform a fire dragon dance at a temple fair celebrating the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, China on February 6, 2011. (REUTERS/Grace Liang) #
A performer dressed in a rabbit costume shows the gesture of paying a new year call at a temple fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year of Rabbit on February 2, 2011 in Beijing, China. (Feng Li/Getty Images) #
A woman lights incense to pray for good fortune on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Wuhu, Anhui province, China on February 3, 2011. (REUTERS/Stringer) #

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