10 Feb 2013

Celebrations mark Year of the Snake

10:41 am on 10 February 2013

China welcomed the arrival of the Year of the Snake with raucous celebrations on Saturday, as people set off firecrackers in the streets of Beijing and sent fireworks blazing into the sky to bring good fortune.

Celebrations in Beijing continued into the early hours of Sunday, officially the first day of the Lunar New Year. Shanghai, saw similar scenes.

Firecrackers are believed to scare off evil spirits and entice the god of wealth to people's doorsteps once New Year's Day arrives.

According to state media, almost half of Beijing's population of 20 million have left the city for the holiday. For many people, this is their only holiday of the year.

Taboos abound over this period. Crying on New Year's Day means you will cry for the rest of the year, and washing your hair signifies washing away good luck.

People born in the year of the snake are believed to be thoughtful and stylish yet complex characters.