Lunar New Year celebrations kick off today, marking the start of the lunisolar calendar for billions of people worldwide. The holiday begins with the first new moon of the lunar calendar (specifically 5:59 pm ET) and will conclude in about two weeks on the first full moon. China is anticipating 9 billion trips across the country during the 40-day travel rush around the holiday, nearly double that of last year.
Linked to the repeating 12-year Chinese Zodiac cycle, the new year also marks the transition from the Year of the Rabbit to the Year of the Dragon, a sign that symbolizes strength, good fortune, and prosperity. The Year of the Dragon has traditionally meant a baby boom for China, as those born during this period are believed to possess qualities including intelligence, ambition, and charisma. See the importance of the dragon in Chinese culture here.
Many traditions around the holiday are based on themes of family and good fortune, including giving lai see to children—red envelopes filled with "lucky money"—and a lantern festival to end the celebrations.
See photos here.