China greets Lunar New Year with celebrations, travel rush

BEIJING — China is greeting next week's Lunar New Year with celebrations and a travel rush that will see an estimated 3 billion trips by people around the country.

Thousands of passengers toted bundles of clothes and gifts at Beijing train station Friday, ahead of the most important holiday on the Chinese calendar. It's a time for people to return to their hometowns to reunite with family and friends.

"Wow, there's a lot of people," Li Pingping, a beauty salon worker from Henan province, said as she steeled herself for a 17-hour train ride home.

The year of the pig in the 12-year Chinese astrological cycle starts Tuesday, waving farewell to the year of the dog.

On the festival's eve, people gather for reunion dinners, give red packets of pocket money to youngsters and light firecrackers at midnight.

The capital, Beijing, and other cities are festooned with lanterns and other decorations to mark the holiday, which is also celebrated in Vietnam and by ethnic Chinese communities around Asia.

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