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Chinese New Year

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The Chinese Lantern Festival takes place on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. As they mark the end of the Spring Festival, celebrants create colorful lanterns, set off fireworks, and hold parades. In one village, residents hurl molten metal against a wall to create an impressive display of sparks in a 300-year-old tradition. Gathered below are some vibrant images from this year's Chinese Lantern Festival. [29 photos]

A blacksmith throws molten metal against a cold wall to create sparks, as he and others celebrate the Lantern Festival which traditionally marks the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations, in Nuanquan, Hebei province, China, on February 6, 2012. For over 300 years, the village, which is famous for its blacksmith skills, has maintained the tradition which they consider a cheaper alternative to buying fireworks during the Lantern Festival. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images)

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The lunar new year is celebrated throughout the world, but especially in Asia when the lunisolar calendar ticks off a new cycle. This year is the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese zodiac, and is viewed as very auspicious. In China, the holiday is known as 春节, the Spring Festival, and kicks off 15 days of celebration. It also triggers the largest human migration in the world, as hundreds of millions of Chinese trek to see families. Gathered here are images of the preparation for the holiday, the travel scene in mainland China, and celebrations in many parts of the world. 新年快乐! -- Lane Turner/雷恩 (38 photos total)
Chinese folk artists perform the lion dance at a temple fair to celebrate the Lunar New Year on January 22, 2012 in Beijing. Also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar calendar, it is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with the Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day. (Feng Li/Getty Images)

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Today marks the start of the Chinese Lunar New Year 2012, the Year of the Dragon. One of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the dragon signifies good fortune and power. In the Chinese astrological cycle, this year is also associated with the element of water, which makes 2012 the Year of the Water Dragon -- an emblem of optimism and growth that comes around only once every 60 years. People around the world are ushering in this auspicious year with displays of fireworks, family get-togethers, temple visits, and street festivals. Collected below are images from several countries where revelers have been welcoming the arrival of the Water Dragon. [34 photos]

Thousands of people visit a lantern festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dragon in Shanghai, on January 23, 2012. (Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images)

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