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China Focus: Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year with traditions, expectations

(Xinhua)    10:09, February 19, 2015

BEIJING, Feb. 18 -- In China, the sky is filled with pyrotechnics and the ports and airports are full of happy family reunions: Wednesday marked the thousand-year-long tradition of ushering in the lunar New Year.

Yesterday, as is the tradition, President Xi Jinping not only expressed his pride of his nation and people, but also also underscored the importance of family bonds and education.

For China, Spring Festival remains an important time to bring the family back together: It is the Chinese version of Thanksgiving.

This year's travel frenzy began early, and more than 2.8 billion trips are expected nationwide, 3.4 percent higher than last year.

In Qufu City in east China's Shandong Province, where the Chinese sage Confucius was born, his decedents are celebrating the New Year by offering sacrifices to their ancestors in a grand ceremony.

We will welcome the New Year in the same way as our ancestor Confucius did," said Kong Xiangsheng, a 75th generation descendant of Confucius.

In a country where tradition meets modernity head-on, there are a growing number of ways to spend New Year Eve. But a delicious dinner, firecrackers and the China Central Television (CCT) gala are probably the most popular.

This year's Spring Festival gala, which expects to attract hundreds of million viewers, is centered on the theme of family reunion and the Chinese dream of revitalization. It will also touch on the ongoing anti-corruption drive, reflecting profound changes in the world's second largest economy's political, economic and social landscape.

In the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Garze in southwestern Sichuan Province, villagers that survived a 4.3 magnitude earthquake in November are seeing in the New Year in tents.

In Tagong Township of the Kangding County, one of the worst-hit areas after the earthquake, Xi Qingrao, 59, was treating friends and relatives to traditional refreshments as his two daughters frolicked around, seemingly without a care in the world.

The farmer said he hoped this year would see his home rebuilt.

This year will see the 965 houses damaged in Xi's neighborhood repaired or rebuilt.

"The New Year is coming and my dreams will come true," Xi said.

In the southwestern Chinese autonomous region of Tibet, the Tibetan New Year of the Wooden Ram will start on Thursday, coinciding with Spring Festival.

In downtown Lhasa, the square in front of the magnificent Potala Palace, has been decorated with colorful flags and ribbons. Avenues in the Tibetan capital are flanked by red lanterns and Chinese-Tibetan bilingual new year posters are as far as the eye can see.

In Taiwan, people ushered in the New Year with couplets, just as their compatriots do across the strait.

"The couplets originated in the Chinese mainland and it flourished here." said Zhong Kechen, who writes couplets for friends each year.

In Macau, the old town was flocked by shoppers.

Chen Lizhen, who is an Indonesian of Chinese descent, is looking for a multi-layered cake, a New Year treat.

"It's a traditional treat for New Year among Indonesian Chinese and I was pleasantly surprised to find it here in Macau." said Chen.

In Hong Kong, companies treated their staff to a hearty meal to thank them for their contributions in the past year.

"Each employee helped establish this company and we will love and care for them as if they were family," a manager at a local firm told Xinhua.

But there are people who are still working at the eve to keep the nation of 1.3 billion population operating on the right track.

At a toll gate on the G5513 expressway in Changsha City, in central China's Hunan Province, Liu Meiqiang, along with her 18 colleagues, will be working all of New Year's Eve.

"Happy New Year!" Liu says to every driver. Over 30,000 vehicles will pass through the toll station today, most of them packed with gifts.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Du Mingming,Bianji)

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