The Year of the Snake: Chinese celebrate Lunar New Year

The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, begins on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake. Credit: Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Millions of people are celebrating the Lunar New Year, the most important annual holiday in Asia.

The Chinese New Year as it is also know, will begin on February 10, marking the transition between the Year of the Dragon to the start of the Year of the Snake.

Beijing residents cold weather to let off brightly coloured fireworks, with clouds of smoke in the air, red wrappings from firecrackers covering streets and explosions rattling windows.

Worshippers rush to place joss sticks at the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple in Singapore Credit: Edgar Su

The government's plea to set off fewer fireworks to help deal with Beijing's air pollution seemed to be largely ignored.

"Every year we set off fireworks and this year will be no different," said Lao Guo, 45, a convenience store worker.

"People won't not set them off because of pollution. It's the custom."

Men set off fireworks as residents celebrate the start of the Chinese New Year in Shanghai Credit: Reuters / Carlos Barria

Fireworks are believed to scare off evil spirits and entice the god of wealth to people's doorsteps.