WHEN it comes to putting on a show, China always takes the bull by the horns. But in this case, its a monkey and a sheep. The animals were performing as part of the countrys Lunar New Year celebrations, marking the beginning of the Year Of The Tiger tomorrow. They were featured in a spectacular show highlighting the skills of animals appearing in the Chinese zodiac, which was held in a temple in Beijing. Hour-long firework displays, glittering processions, traditional displays and historical dances formed just part of the celebrations for the most important event in the Chinese calendar. Beijing and Shanghai reverberated with chaotic, ad hoc firework displays as midnight approached. While countries across the world - including the UK, Spain and Malaysia - put on colourful celebrations to welcome the New Year, also know as Spring Festival. Airports and transport networks overflowed as tens of millions of people headed home to China to be with their families for the start of the holiday. An estimated 210 million people - more than the population of Russia - are expected to use the railways during the 40-day New Year travel season, up 10 per cent from last year. The holiday officially lasts six days, but many workers take up to a month off. Firecrackers are believed to scare off evil spirits and entice the god of wealth to peoples doorsteps once New Years Day arrives. Celebrations will carry on into the early hours of Sunday, officially the first day of the new year. Police around the country tightened security for the holiday period. A notice on the Ministry of Public Security website said police would increase checks on fireworks displays, lantern shows and temple fairs. Last year, an illegal fireworks display at the headquarters of Chinas state broadcaster in Beijing caused a massive fire at a newly built 44-storey hotel. On Friday, three firefighters died while fighting a building fire triggered by fireworks in central Hunan province, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao warned his people to keep a 'sober mind about the challenges ahead. He said: 'In 2010, China will face a more complicated situation, both at home and abroad. People must 'keep a sober mind and an enhanced sense of anxiety about lagging behind, he added. Priority should be given to 'persistence in taking economic development as the central task, forcefully promoting reform and opening up ... and doing a better job responding to the global financial crisis, in order to keep steady and relatively fast economic development. President Hu Jintao spent Friday visiting Taiwanese investors in the south-eastern province of Fujian. Taiwanese have invested billions of dollars in China since detente began between the two sides in the 1980s, lured by a common culture and language. DM China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since a civil war ended with Communist victory in 1949. DM