China marks Lunar New Year with prayers, incense, fireworks

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese are lighting incense sticks and praying at temples to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year.

Thousands visited Beijing’s major temples on Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Rooster. Wearing heavy winter coats, they lit incense sticks and bowed as they prayed for good fortune and health. As many as 80,000 people were expected at the Lama Temple in central Beijing, state television reported.

Beijing’s sprawling spring festival temple fair opened at Ditan Park, where empty tree branches were festooned with red lanterns and traditional goods and foods were for sale.

Other New Year’s traditions include the eating of dumplings in northern China and the lighting of fireworks. Beijing’s government called on Communist Party cadres and government staff not to set off firecrackers due to environmental concerns, but local media reported air pollution levels in Beijing and several other cities still shot up Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Ethnic Chinese and others around the world also marked the holiday with celebrations and visits to temples.

Large crowds gathered in Hong Kong and Malaysia on Friday night. In Rio de Janeiro, crowds watched a dragon dance and a performance of tai chi in front of a picture of Rio’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue. New York brought in the holiday with fireworks Thursday night over the Hudson River. And in Pyongyang, North Korea, a large crowd laid flowers in front of bronze statues of founding leader Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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