RAW VIDEO: San Francisco firecracker ceremony kicks off Chinese New Year

San Francisco kicked off the Chinese New Year on Monday with a special firecracker ceremony.

Firecrackers are a important part of Chinese history and the new year. The are traditionally set off to frighten away ghosts and evil spirits. 

According to legend, the tradition began thousands of years ago when a monster terrorized a small village, destroying homes and eating crops. One day a villager realized the monster was scared of the color red and loud noises. So the village used firecrackers to scare away the monster, and since then it's been part of the New Year's tradition. 

You can see plenty of firecrackers on February 20th, when San Francisco holds its annual Chinese New Year parade in downtown.