London Celebrates Chinese New Year

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London bursts into color on Sunday as the capital celebrated Chinese New Year.

The center was packed as crowds thronged to Trafalgar Square, Leicester Square and Chinatown. Festivities started with the lighting of long streams of firecrackers.

Organizer Suzannah Kwok explained how the event had taken off.

[Suzannah Kwok, Celebration Organizer]:
"The London Chinatown Chinese Organization have organized the Chinese New Year celebrations in London for over 20 years now, what started off to be a very small community event in Chinatown has now grown to be a major free public event in London, which attracts a lot of Chinese people, Londoners and tourists to London."

One of the highlights was the spectacular acrobatic lion dance where two dancers in a lion costume leapt from one high podium to another.

The Chinese New Year is the biggest festival in the Chinese calendar.

Based on the lunar calendar, the date varies from late January to mid-February.

This year, New Years Day fell on February 14 with festivities lasting for up to two weeks.

Another tradition is known as the 'eating of the green'.

Musicians bang drums and cymbals as a lion dances from shop to shop, leaping up to grab a cabbage hanging in a shop doorway, which it then spits out to represent the sharing of prosperity.

The dance is said to bring good fortune and ward off evil spirits for the shop's business.

Every year is represented by one of twelve animals from the Chinese zodiac and 2010 is the Year of the Tiger.

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