[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 22 January, 2004, 07:03 GMT
Asia welcomes Year of Monkey
Fireworks in Shanghai
Shanghai saw in the year of the monkey in style
People across Asia and in Asian communities around the world have been celebrating the Lunar New Year.

The star of Chinese celebrations was the country's first man in space, Yang Liwei, who appeared on TV to wish people a happy year of the monkey.

In the country's largest city, Shanghai, the sky lit up as thousands of residents let off firecrackers.

But Beijing was somewhat quieter - as the authorities tried enforce a ban on fireworks and other explosives.

However firecrackers resonated through the night in the capital, and Roman candles cascades over the finance ministry.
Children dressed as the mythical Monkey King in Beijing
Dates from 2600 BC
A complete cycle takes 60 years, divided into 12 year elements
Each of these 12 years is named after an animal
The year you were born in is said to influence your personality
Monkey years are meant to be unpredictable and erratic

Firecrackers have been a staple of Lunar New Year celebrations for centuries in China.

Shanghai unleashed an all-night barrage of fireworks.

Many Chinese spent Wednesday evening - New Year's Eve - at home with their families eating traditional foods and watching the traditional variety show on state television.

Yang Liwei - who orbited the earth in October - featured prominently and addressed the nation dressed in a Taikonaut suit.

"World peace should be as permanent as the sky and the earth," he said.

On Wednesday, trains and buses were packed and airports busy as millions of Chinese made long journeys home to enjoy the holiday with family and friends.

On alert

The health ministry monitored symptoms of Sars during the holiday travel.

Body temperature checks were in place at a number at airports and stations - anyone with a fever over 38 Celsius (100.5 Fahrenheit) would not be allowed to board their chosen mode of transport.

Officials are on alert for any signs of fever among passengers amid continuing fears over the Sars virus.

My step-dad's family makes a ton of dumplings and we all eat until we can't move!
Sarah, Los Angeles, California, USA

Increasing numbers are choosing to travel abroad. Shanghai tour agencies said some 500,000 people have booked foreign trips for the holiday - a rise of almost 10% percent from last year.

Twenty tourists became the first Chinese visitors to Cuba, which was declared an official tourist destination by Beijing last year.

Celebrations are also being held in other parts of Asia.

Indonesia's capital, Jakarta - which has a large ethnic-Chinese community - is bedecked with red and gold.

Chinese lanterns and banners decorate the streets and the city's hotels are offering special packages, including all-you-can-eat dim sum buffets.

The BBC's Rachel Harvey in Jakarta says that being allowed to celebrate Chinese New Year is still something of a novelty for Indonesians, and people seem determined to make the most of it.

Under the authoritarian rule of former president Suharto, Chinese language and culture were banned.

The BBC's Anita Coulson
"Chinese astrologers say these are exciting times ahead"

In Pictures: Lunar New Year festivities
20 Jan 04  |  Photo Gallery
China's migrant wage battle
21 Jan 04  |  Asia-Pacific


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific