China marks Lunar New Year with prayers, incense, fireworks

A Malaysian ethnic Chinese woman places joss sticks in the cauldron on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebrations mark the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
Lion dance troupe performs during the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebration marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
Ethnic Chinese pray during celebrations of the Lunar New Year in the Chinatown area of Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
A Malaysian ethnic Chinese family takes a selfie on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebrations mark the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
An ethnic Chinese man release birds for good luck during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple in the Chinatown area of Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
An ethnic Chinese man lights incense sticks during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Temple visitors play with the lion dance troupe during the lion dance performance on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebration marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
People offer prayers during celebrations of Lunar New Year at Chinatown in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Jan. 28 this year marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Temple visitors give red packets to the lion dance troupe during the lion dance performance on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebration marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
North Korean refugees and their family members pay respect to their ancestors in North Korea as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Millions of South Koreans visit their hometowns during the four-day holiday that began Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Hong Liang, third from right, smiles after receiving a gift reading "Lucky" from Chinese living in Myanmar as he takes part in cerebrations to mark Lunar New Year at Chinatown Saturday, Jan.28, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Saturday marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
A Malaysian ethnic Chinese girl holds offerings on the first day of Lunar New Year celebrations at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebrations mark the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
An ethnic Chinese woman carries incense sticks during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
An ethnic Chinese man prays during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
People offer prayers during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at Chinatown in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Jan. 28 this year marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Ethnic Chinese queue to pray during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple in the Chinatown area of Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
North Korean refugees and their family members bow to respect their ancestors in North Korea as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Millions of South Koreans visit their hometowns during the four-day holiday that began Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Local Chinese artists perform a dragon dance during cerebrations to mark Lunar New Year at Chinatown Saturday, Jan.28, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Saturday marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
A Malaysian ethnic Chinese woman places joss sticks in the cauldron on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. The celebrations mark the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Lim Huey Teng)
People offer prayers during celebrations of Lunar New Year at Chinatown in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Jan. 28 this year marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
North Korean refugees and their family members place flowers to respect their ancestors in North Korea as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Millions of South Koreans visit their hometowns during the four-day holiday that began Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
An ethnic Chinese man lights incense sticks during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country are celebrating the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
An ethnic Chinese man celebrates the Lunar New Year at the Dharma Bakti Temple at the Chinatown in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country is to celebrate the Year of the Rooster. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
North Korean refugees and their family members bow to respect their ancestors in North Korea as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Millions of South Koreans visit their hometowns during the four-day holiday that began Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Women hang a ribbon wishing for reunification of the two Koreas on the wire fence as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Millions of South Koreans visit their hometowns during the four-day holiday that began Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean children Park Yeon-hee and Park Yeon-jung, right, bow to pay to respect to their ancestors in North Korea in front of the barbed wire fence as they celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Millions of South Koreans visit their hometowns during the four-day holiday that began Friday. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
An Indonesian ethnic Chinese women release birds during a celebration of the Lunar New Year at Dharma Bakti Temple at the China Town in Jakarta, Indonesia, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Ethnic Chinese in the world's most populous Muslim country is to celebrate the Year of the Rooster.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
People offer prayers during celebrations of Lunar New Year at Chinatown in Yokohama, near Tokyo, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017. Jan. 28 this year marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A local Chinese artist blows fire as they perform a dragon dance during cerebrations to mark Lunar New Year at Chinatown Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Saturday marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
People walk under red lanterns in cerebrations to mark Lunar New Year at China town Saturday, Jan.28, 2017, in Yangon, Myanmar. Saturday marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)

BEIJING — 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.

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