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January 24, 2012
Celebrating the Year of the Dragon
BEIJING (AP) -- Millions of ethnic Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese across Asia are ringing in the new Year of the Dragon with fireworks, feasting and family reunions.
From Beijing to Bangkok and Seoul to Singapore, people hoping for good luck in the new year that began Monday are visiting temples and lighting incense, setting off firecrackers and watching street performances of lion and dragon dances.
For many, the Lunar New Year is the biggest family reunion of the year for which people endured hours of cramped travel on trains and buses to get home.
In ancient times the dragon was a symbol reserved for the Chinese emperor, and it is considered to be an extremely auspicious sign.
(50 images)



Performers take part in a dragon dance during a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. According to the Chinese zodiac, the year 2012 is called the Year of the Dragon. AP / Vincent Yu


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Fireworks explode over the Victoria Harbor to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in Hong Kong Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. AP / Vincent Yu



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People watch fireworks on the Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan



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Fireworks explode near the Yongdingmen Gate Tower on Lunar New Year's Eve in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan



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People watch fireworks on the Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan



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A security guard stands by as firework explode in the background on the Chinese Lunar New Year's Eve in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival in China, on Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan



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Chinese female drummers participate in a drum dance at the Dongyue Temple during the Chinese New Year in Beijing, China, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012. AP / Andy Wong



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A Chinese actor dressed as a Qing Dynasty emperor prepares for a prayer during an ancient Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good harvest and fortune at a temple fair in Ditan Park during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Andy Wong



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Chinese performers dressed in Qing Dynasty costumes participate in an ancient Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for a good harvest and fortune at a temple fair in Ditan Park during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Andy Wong



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Chinese performers dressed in Qing Dynasty costumes participate in an ancient Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for a good harvest and fortune at a temple fair in Ditan Park during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Andy Wong



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Chinese security guards yawn before proceeding to their duties at a temple fair in Ditan Park during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Andy Wong



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Temple fair performers with cartoon-dragon-shaped balloon costumes rehearse for upcoming Chinese Lunar New Year, the year of the dragon, near a roadside decoration showing Chinese character "spring" in Beijing, China, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Alexander F. Yuan



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Worshippers burn joss sticks to pay thier first visit of the "Year of the Dragon" at Longhua Temple in Shanghai, China on early Monday Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Eugene Hoshiko



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Worshippers burn joss sticks to pay thier first visit of the "Year of the Dragon" at Longhua Temple in Shanghai, China on early Monday Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Eugene Hoshiko



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Worshippers burn joss sticks to pay their first visit of the "Year of the Dragon" at Longhua Temple in Shanghai, China on early Monday Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Eugene Hoshiko



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A worshipper burns joss sticks to pay her first visit of the "Year of the Dragon" at Longhua Temple in Shanghai, China on early Monday Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Eugene Hoshiko



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A worshipper burns a bundle of joss sticks at a temple on the second day of the Chinese Lunar New Year Tuesday Jan. 24, 2012 in Shanghai, China. AP / Eugene Hoshiko



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Performers take part in a dragon dance in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. According to the Chinese zodiac, the year 2012 is called the Year of the Dragon. AP / Vincent Yu



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Dancers performer near a float decorated with dragons in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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Shaolin monks take part in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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Performers take part in a dragon dance in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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A performer takes part in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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Performers take part in a dragon dance during a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, to celebrate the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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Performers dance in front of a float decorated with dragons in a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, celebrating the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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Performers take part in a dragon dance during a night parade in Hong Kong Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, to celebrate the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year. AP / Vincent Yu



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A North Korean guard walks up a platform towards a large portrait of the late Kim Jong Il and bouquets of flowers placed in front of it as people pay their respects on the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. Pyongyang residents said they were encouraged to celebrate the traditional holiday as they usually do, despite the death of Kim Jong Il, only the second leader North Koreans have known since the nation was founded in 1948. AP / David Guttenfelder



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North Koreans gather to lay flowers on a stage in front of a large portrait of the late Kim Jong Il as they pay their respects on the first day of the Lunar New Year holiday at Kim Il Sung Square in Pyongyang Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / David Guttenfelder



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In this photo released by the Korean Central News Agency and distributed in Tokyo by the Korea News Service North Korean students perform to celebrate the Lunar New Year, at Mangyondae Schoolchildren's Palace in Pyongyang, North Korea Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP /



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A North Korean man photographs a child in front of a New Year decoration as they celebrate the first day of the Lunar New Year in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Kim Kwang Hyon



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A devotee lights a candle at the Lungshan temple on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Taipei, Taiwan, late Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Wally Santana



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A devotee lights a candle at the Lungshan temple on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Taipei, Taiwan, late Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Wally Santana



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A devotee prays for good luck under a large lantern on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Taipei, Taiwan, late Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Wally Santana



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A devotee burns joss sticks at the Lungshan temple on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Taipei, Taiwan, late Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Wally Santana



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A group of Cambodian ethnic Chinese performs dragon dance in front of the Royal Palace, ahead of Lunar New Year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Heng Sinith



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A group of Cambodian ethnic Chinese performs dragon dance in front of the Royal Palace, ahead of Lunar New Year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012. AP / Heng Sinith



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A performer reaches out for the gift being dangled from a supermarket during dragon and lion dance performance in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Monday Jan. 23, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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Firecrackers explode as Filipino-Chinese perform a dragon dance in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Monday Jan. 23, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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A performer breaths fire during a dragon dance performance in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Monday Jan. 23, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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A crowd scrambles for free items being thrown at them by staff of a supermarket after a dragon dance performance in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Monday Jan. 23, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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A Filipino-Chinese lights candles while praying inside a Chinese temple in celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Monday Jan. 23, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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Filipino-Chinese wait for their turn to perform a dragon dance on the eve of the celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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A crowd gather at Manila's Chinatown district as Filipino-Chinese perform a dragon dance on the eve of the celebration of the Chinese New Year Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in Manila, Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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Filipino-Chinese perform a dragon dance on the eve of the celebration of the Chinese New Year at Manila's Chinatown district Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 in the Philippines. AP / Bullit Marquez



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An Indonesian ethnic Chinese man carries his boy to help to light a candle during Lunar New Year celebrations at a temple in Chinatown in Tangerang, Banten province, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Achmad Ibrahim



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Indonesian ethnic Chinese pray during Lunar New year celebration at Dharma Bakti temple in Chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Dita Alangkara



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Ethnic Chinese artists perform a dragon dance in front of visitors at beachside Ancol Dream Land, during the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Jakarta, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Tatan Syuflana



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Indonesia's ethnic Chinese women light incense sticks in preparation for a prayer as part of celebrations of Lunar New Year at a temple in Tangerang, Banten province, Indonesia, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Achmad Ibrahim



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In this late Sunday, Jan. 22, 2012 photo, Indonesian ethnic Chinese hold a lantern together before releasing it to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia. AP / Binsar Bakkara



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Dragon dance performers participate in Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Bangkok Monday, Jan. 23, 2012. AP / Sakchai Lalit



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A performer prepares before the start of a dragon dance during Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations, in Bangkok, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012 . AP / Sakchai Lalit



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