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Chinese New Year 2019: Celebrating the Year of the Pig, in Pictures

More than a billion people across the world have started celebrating the Lunar New Year, welcoming in the Year of the Pig.

The occasion is marked with extravagant ceremonies across Asia, with smaller celebrations happening in all corners of the world, from fireworks, dragon costumes and red lanterns, to family reunions—and lots of dumplings.

02 Chinese New Year People burn incense sticks to pray for good fortune at Longhua temple in Shanghai to mark the start of the Lunar New Year. Matthew Knight/AFP 05 Chinese New Year A panda cub investigates Lunar New Year decorations in its enclosure at the Wolong National Nature Reserve in Wenchuan, China's southwestern Sichuan province. Eleven giant panda cubs born in 2018 were presented to the public to mark the Lunar New Year of the Pig. AFP 04 Chinese New Year A woman holding incense prays for good fortune on the first day of the Lunar New Year at Yonghegong or Lama Temple in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

In China, where the Lunar New Year is the nation’s most important holiday, millions of people return to their hometowns to see their families—an integral part of the tradition. This is often the only time students and migrant workers get to return home.

The week-long New Year holiday is surrounded by a 40-day travel frenzy known as "Chunyun," during which the total volume of journeys is almost three billion. It is the largest annual migration of people in the world. In 2015, 1,000 railway tickets were sold each second in the run-up to the event, according to the official Chinese New Year site.

Unlike most holidays in the West, such as Christmas or New Year’s Eve, the date of the Lunar New Year is not fixed in the calendar and usually takes place any time between January 21 and February 20.

Although China has officially moved to the Gregorian calendar like the rest of the world, the lunar calendar is still used to calculate traditional holidays and sometimes even birthdays. 

The celebrations last 15 days—making it China’s longest holiday. Many families visit Temple Fairs in public parks to watch traditional performances such as dragon dances and Chinese opera. 

06 Chinese New Year A pig lantern is displayed at the Yu Yuan Garden in Shanghai, to mark the Lunar New Year, the Year of the Pig. AFP 10 Chinese New Year 3 People wearing traditional clothes celebrate the Lunar New Year at Gyeongbokgung Royal Palace in Seoul, South Korea. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images 12 Chinese New Year A fire breather performs during celebrations for the Lunar New Year of the Pig in Manila's Chinatown district. Ted Aljibe/AFP

The pig is the last of the 12 Zodiac symbols associated with Chinese New Year. It symbolizes optimism, enthusiasm and a determination to work hard.

Here Newsweek presents photos of Lunar New Year celebrations in China, Vietnam, the Philippines, South Korea and across Asia.

01 Chinese New Year A lion dance troupe performs among visitors jostling for freebies thrown to them during celebrations for the Lunar New Year of the Pig in Manila's Chinatown district. Ted Aljibe/AFP

03 Chinese New Year Chinese worshippers light incense as they pray for good fortune on the first day of the Lunar New Year at Yonghegong or Lama Temple in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 07 Chinese New Year South Koreans hang ribbons to wish for reunification of the two Koreas on the wire fence at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone (DMZ) during Lunar New Year's day. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images 08Chinese New Year A North Korean defector living in South Korea pays respects to her ancestors in North Korea during a ceremony to mark the Lunar New Year near the demilitarized zone separating the two countries. Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images 09 Chinese New Year Police secure a crowd of worshippers as they line up to pray for good fortune at Yonghegong or Lama Temple in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images 10 Chinese New Year Flames rise up from a pit where visitors throw incense sticks while praying for good fortune at Longhua temple in Shanghai to mark the start of the Lunar New Year. Matthew Knight/AFP 13 Chinese New Year People flock to Van Mieu Temple in Hanoi, Vietnam, on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Linh Pham/Getty Images 14 Chinese New Year People perform during a festival held to mark the Lunar New Year in Solo City, Central Java, Indonesia. Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images 15 Chinese New Year Children in animal hats pose in front of a pig giant pig installation ahead of the Lunar New Year in Hong Kong. Philip Fong/AFP 16 Chinese New Year People hold incense sticks as they pray for good fortune at Longhua temple in Shanghai. Matthew Knight/AFP 18 Chinese New Year Worshippers holding incense pray for good fortune on the first day of the Lunar New Year at Yonghegong or Lama Temple in Beijing. Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

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