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Happy Lunar New Year! China celebrates the year of the rooster

Lunar New Year celebrations took place all over China, welcoming the year of the rooster. One of the main celebrations featured 11 Chinese astronauts.

Hundreds of millions of Chinese celebrated the Lunar New Year Friday into Saturday, with many tuning in to the "CCTV Spring Festival Gala."

The television show was on many Chinese screens Friday night, a spectacle lasting for more than four hours, and included skits, music and dance. The show has been a yearly tradition since 1983, but has been criticized for being too nationalistic and praising the Communist party.

The main celebration of the night included 11 Chinese astronauts in front of a large Chinese flag, who introduced themselves and placed their hands in clay molds. The molds will later be displayed in a museum.

Watch video 02:53

Telling fortunes in the Year of the Rooster

"Our space flight ranks are increasingly growing in strength," said Yang Liwei, the first Chinese man ever in space. "We welcome even more people to join our ranks, to build our country into a strong space nation."

Also included in the patriotic celebrations were five revolutionaries who fought in China's civil war in the 1930's and a military choir singing in front of a screen showing fighter jets on China's first aircraft carrier and what appeared to be a Chinese occupied island in the South China Sea.

Chinese swimmer Fu Yuanhui, who became known for her pool-side interviews at the 2016 Summer Olympics performed a comedy routine and a donkey bowed on command and offered his hoof to shake hands with a performer in the lighter parts of the show.

Fireworks and lunch

No new year's in China would be complete without fireworks. Cities across the country featured their own fireworks shows to ring in the year of the rooster.

Another traditional event took place in Liuminying village. A lunch that began when it was sponsored by the local branch of the ruling Communist party in 1980 has grown into a three hour show including singing and dancing for more than 1,000 people.

Neujahrsfest in China Lianyungang (Reuters/Stringer)

Fireworks shot into the air to celebrate the new year

kbd/bw (AP, Reuters)

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