Worshipers welcome Year of the Snake
ByREUTERS
10 February 2013 22:31
In the Philippines, hundreds crowded into Manilla's Chinatown to mark the Lunar New Year.
Chinese New Year, February 10, 2013.

Chinese new year 370. (photo credit:REUTERS/Bobby Yip)

On Sunday, people around the world celebrated the Lunar New Year - the most important festival on the Chinese calendar.



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Hundreds flocked to this 300-year-old temple in Beijing, braving freezing temperatures and hangovers.

As is tradition, they burned incense and prayed for a prosperous year.

In the Philippines, hundreds crowded into Manilla's Chinatown to mark the Lunar New Year - and bid farewell to the Year of the Dragon.

Many hoped the year would bring smoother relations between China and its neighbor, which are locked in a series of territorial disputes.

The Lunar Year celebrations will last for 15 days. Celebrations include temple fairs and traditional performance and craft activities.

Chinese worshipers rose early on Sunday to offer prayers at temples on the first day of the Year of the Snake.

Thousands of people flocked to Beijing's ancient Yonghegong Lama Temple, braving freezing temperatures and hangovers to be one of the first to burn an incense stick.

Some lit bunches of incense and kowtowed three times in front of the temple's many halls, while others threw huge piles into urns of fire in the crowded temple courtyard.

The 300-year-old Lama Temple is the most important center of Tibetan Buddhism in the ancient capital.

Visitors took turns hitting a giant bell with a giant hammer, a custom that many believe will ward off evil and bring luck and longevity for the year ahead.

In one of the temple's inner courtyards, people threw coins at an ancient urn. Getting a coin through one of the windows in the top is said to fulfill wishes for the coming year.

The Year of the Dragon ended on Saturday night with countless thunderous fireworks displays across the city.

The Lunar New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar, as it is often the only holiday in the year that they get to escape work and spend time with families and relatives.

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