Year of the Dragon rung in with fireworks, family

Thousands of people visit a lantern festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year of the Dragon in Shanghai on Jan. 23, 2012. The Lunar New Year begins on Jan. 23 and is the begining of the Spring Festival holiday.. PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

BEIJING - Millions of ethnic Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese across Asia are ringing in the new Year of the Dragon with fireworks, feasting and family reunions.

From Beijing to Bangkok and Seoul to Singapore, people hoping for good luck in the new year that began Monday are visiting temples and lighting incense, setting off firecrackers and watching street performances of lion and dragon dances.

For many, the Lunar New Year is the biggest family reunion of the year for which people endured hours of cramped travel on trains and buses to get home.

In ancient times the dragon was a symbol reserved for the Chinese emperor, and it is considered to be an extremely auspicious sign.

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