Singapore's Chinatown kicked off its annual Chinese New Year celebrations for the upcoming Year of the Snake with a light-up ceremony on Sunday evening.
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam flipped the switch at the ceremony to light the festive lanterns that adorned the streets of Chinatown. The decorative lighting will be kept on during the nights until the end of the celebrations on March 11.
Singers, dancers and acrobats from Singapore as well as Malaysia and China gave performances on a stage in the open space on Eu Tong Sen Street on Sunday evening.
The ceremony ended with firecrackers and fireworks set off from a nearby building, as tens of thousands of residents and tourists sang and danced to traditional Chinese music.
The celebrations this year are themed "spring of happiness." Organizers used many square lanterns to decorate the streets, which the designers said were inspired by the typical ancient Chinese house in the form of a quadrangle compound where houses were built around a courtyard.
Students from a local university also linked 88 red cube lanterns together to form a unique snake-like sculpture.
Different from the typical image of the snake in Western culture, a snake in the house is said to be a good sign in ancient Chinese wisdom because it means the family will not starve. A snake is believed to be wise and intelligent, and an auspicious symbol of prosperity and happiness.
The first day of the upcoming Chinese Year of Snake falls on Feb. 10. Celebrations usually kick off weeks ahead of the first day of the Chinese new year and lasted until after the 15th day of the first month of the Chinese New Year.
Some of the events under the umbrella of Chinatown Chinese New Year celebrations have already started. Hundreds of stalls, a must- visit place for the local residents during the Chinese New Year, were also open.
Over 70 percent of the population in Singapore are Chinese descendants. The Chinese New Year celebrations in the multiracial city state are known for their diversity.