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Zhouzhuang celebrates on New Year's Day

(chinadaily.com.cn)

Zhouzhuang, with a history of over 900 years, hosted a sacrifice and opening ceremony on New Year's Day of 2016, to pray for fair weather and a good crop yield in the coming year.

The streets were decorated with lanterns and streamers, illuminated for the celebration. The city reechoed with the sound of gongs and drums. The dragon and lion dances warmed up the atmosphere. Thousands of domestic and foreign visitors filled the crowded streets.

Zhouzhuang celebrates on New Year's Day

Zhouzhuang, an ancient water town in Kunshan, Jiangsu province, wishes every tourist a happy new year. [Photo/zhouzhuang.net]

At 9:58 in the morning, a venerable elder dressing up as the legendary landlord Shen Wansan announced the start of the sacrifice ceremony. Wearing a colorful Qipao (Mandarin Gown) and black traditional style boots, the old man led the local residents who dressed up as servants to worship the ancestors.

People paid tributes, lit candles, burned Chinese incense and read Sanskrit prayers for a year of peace and prosperity.

Zhouzhuang celebrates on New Year's Day

Zhouzhuang's streets are full of visitors on 2016 New Year's Day. [Photo/zhouzhuang.net] 

As the venerable elder struck the gong using a golden hammer, the gate of the ancient town, painted in red, slowly opened. On both sides of the gate hanging couplets were immediately unveiled. Firecrackers were set off with colored papers flowing in the air. The new year's blessings were passed to every one there.

The first visitors of 2016 wandered around the streets and lanes following a long parade composed of drum corps and residents dressed up as opera characters, to usher in an auspicious start to the year.

Zhouzhuang celebrates on New Year's Day

People write "Happy New Year" in Chinese calligraphy. [Photo/zhouzhuang.net]

After the ceremony, the event organizer hosted many other traditional folk activities like dragon and lion dances and a boating contest. In the evening, visitors released water lanterns on the river to pray for good luck.