China hopes for good luck charm from Year of the Snake

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China hopes for good luck charm from Year of the Snake

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Out with the dragon, in with the Year of the Snake.

While some astrologists are forecasting the Chinese New Year will be suitably venomous, bringing natural and economic disasters, people in Beijing and beyond have been celebrating the event in traditional fashion.

In the city’s Temple of Earth, sacrifices performed by past emperors to appease the gods were meticulously recreated.

Yet despite some extremely colourful scenes, this year’s festivities have been accompanied by an anti-extravagance drive.

The government appealed to people to set off fewer fireworks to help deal with Beijing’s notorious air pollution.

“There’ll be fewer fireworks this year, because we have a lot of smog in Beijing. The pollution is very severe. So we just bought small fireworks for the children. We used to buy big fireworks, but this year we didn’t. This is to bring Beijing blue skies,” said market stall trader Yu Zhongmin.

A campaign against food waste has brought smaller portions in restaurants. A crackdown on official excess has put an end to lavish banquets for state-owned companies.

Half of Beijing’s 20 million people are reported to have left the city for the holiday. Hundreds of millions have travelled to spend the festival with their families, in the world’s largest annual mass migration.