LUNAR NEW YEAR

With incense and red lanterns, Chinese across mainland welcome Year of the Rooster

As many as 80,000 people expected at Lama Temple in central Beijing, while some 6 million are set to head abroad during the holiday

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 6:52pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 28 January, 2017, 7:31pm

Chinese headed to temples and fairs across the mainland on Saturday to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year.

Thousands gathered at Beijing’s major temples on 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.

Lunar New Year fireworks spark a return to hazardous Beijing pollution

The Lunar New Year holiday is also a time for families and relatives to visit, with hundreds of millions of people criss-crossing China for the occasion.

The mainland witnessed a surge in tourist numbers on Friday, the first day of the week-long holiday, Xinhua reported, citing official data.

The number of tourists rose 10.4 per cent year on year to 50.5 million. Tourist-generated income climbed to 59 billion yuan, up 13.3 per cent from one year earlier, according to data from the China National Tourism Administration.

In Beijing alone, 294,000 tourists visited the city’s 160 major scenic spots on Friday.

In terms of outbound tourism, Phuket and Bangkok of Thailand, Nha Trang of Vietnam, Bali of Indonesia, and Singapore were among most popular destinations.

It is estimated that over 6 million Chinese people will travel abroad during the holiday.

The Year of the Rooster was also greeted by ethnic Chinese and others around the world.

Riot or not, Hong Kong street food hawkers set up shop in Mong Kok again for Lunar New Year

Large crowds gathered Malaysia on Friday night as the holiday began. 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 over the Hudson River.