Happy Lunar New Year!

Welcome to the Year of the Dog.

February 16 marks the official start of the Lunar New Year, though preparations have been underway for weeks. The centuries-old celebration is meant as a time to spend with family, feast, and, of course, look to the future. This cycle will usher in the year of the dog — one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac. Here, pictures from around China as citizens celebrate the Lunar New Year. (Pictured: People praying with incense sticks at the Longhua temple in Shanghai.)

Bring on the Dogs -/AFP/Getty Images Bring on the Dogs Balloons illuminate the Yu Garden in Shanghai. Lit Labyrinth FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images Lit Labyrinth Visitors to Xian's Tang Paradise Park lose themselves in an illuminated maze. Food for Thought. . . and Maybe Some Leftovers Wang He/Getty Images Food for Thought. . . and Maybe Some Leftovers A traditional gathering in Wuhan sees residents cook thousands of dishes to share with their neighbors. It's not only an opportunity to celebrate and commune but to also learn from others' cooking skills. Ladies in Red YE AUNG THU/AFP/Getty Images Ladies in Red Garbed in scarlet and carrying matching lanterns, these women are ready to herald the first day of Lunar New Year in Yangon's Chinatown district. Going to the Temple VCG/VCG via Getty Images Going to the Temple A man holds incense sticks aloft, quietly praying for blessings in the coming year. Eternal Flame TIMUR MATAHARI/AFP/Getty Images Eternal Flame A woman lights a candle at a Chinese temple in Badung.