China greets lunar new year with celebrations, travel rush

Chinese New Year decorations are displayed at an office building in Hong Kong, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Chinese will celebrate the lunar new year on F

Chinese New Year decorations are displayed at an office building in Hong Kong, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Chinese will celebrate the lunar new year on F

A huge peach blossom is displayed as Chinese New Year decorations at an office building in Hong Kong, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Chinese will celebrate

A huge peach blossom is displayed as Chinese New Year decorations at an office building in Hong Kong, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Chinese will celebrate

BEIJING (AP) — China is greeting the lunar new year with celebrations and a travel rush that will see an estimated 3 billion trips by people around the country.

This year is the year of the pig in the 12-year Chinese astrological cycle and waves farewell to the year of the dog.

The holiday that officially starts Tuesday is the most important in the Chinese calendar, a time for people to return to their hometowns to reunite with friends and family.

On the festival's eve, people gather for reunion dinners, give red packets of pocket money to youngsters, and light firecrackers at midnight.

The capital Beijing and other cities have been festooned with lanterns and other decorations to mark the holiday, which is also celebrated in Vietnam and among other Asian communities.