AP PHOTOS: People in Asia and beyond welcome Lunar New Year

People pray on the first day of the Lunar New Year at the Lama Temple in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
In this Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, file photo, a man holds a child as they pose for a photo near a pathway decorated for the Lunar New Year at a public park in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
In this Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, file photo, a traditional lion dance team performs ahead of the Lunar New Year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
In this Monday, Feb. 12, 2018, file photo, a traditional dragon dance is performed ahead of the Lunar New Year in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. (AP Photo/Heng Sinith)
Indonesian ethnic Chinese pray during the celebration of Lunar New Year at a temple in the China Town in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, file photo, a vendor selling Lunar New Year decorations waits for customers at a wholesale market in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
In this Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo, a man carries his child under traditional Chinese lanterns on the first day of Chinese Lunar New Year at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (AP Photo/Sadiq Asyraf)
In this Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, file photo, bright red lanterns to celebrate the Lunar New Year are hung from a tree at a public park in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A fire-eater performs on the street in celebration of the Chinese Lunar New Year Friday, Feb. 16, 2018 at Manila's Chinatown district, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
People pray on the first day of the Lunar New Year at the Lama Temple in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Security officials ring the bell at midnight to mark the arrival of the Lunar New Year at the Bell Tower in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
In this Friday, Feb. 16, 2018, file photo, Indonesian ethnic Chinese release birds which is believed to bring good luck during Lunar New Year celebrations at a temple in the China Town in Jakarta, Indonesia. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
A woman places incense sticks during celebrations of the Lunar New Year at a temple in Bali, Indonesia, Friday, Feb. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, a worker attaches lanterns for celebrations of the Lunar New Year celebrations at the Leng Nuei Yee Chinese temple in Bangkok, Thailand. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
In this Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, file photo, a giant illuminated dog for the upcoming Year of the Dog is displayed as part of Lunar New Year festivities at Chenghuang Temple in Shangha. (AP Photo)

BEIJING — People in Asia and around the world are celebrating the Lunar New Year on Friday with festivals, parades and temple visits to ask for blessings.

This year marks the year of the dog, one of the 12 animals in the Chinese astrological chart. People in Beijing celebrated with family feasts and visits to bustling temple fairs amid the mid-winter chill.

Ditan Park in the city center was the most vibrant, with empty tree branches festooned with red lanterns and traditional goods and foods being snapped up by the churning crowds.

Other New Year traditions include the eating of dumplings in northern China and gift giving to children in the form of cash-stuffed red envelopes called "hongbao." However, a ban on fireworks in 400 cities, including the capital, severely curtailed such traditional ear-splitting displays this year.

Ethnic Chinese and others around the world also marked the holiday with celebrations. In the Philippines, which boasts a large ethnic Chinese minority, fire breathers performed at a street fair in Manila and children used crates and buckets to put on improvised lion dances.

In Japan, lion dances were performed in Chinatown in the port city of Yokohama, while in Malaysia, a diver dressed as the god of good fortune fed fish at an aquarium in Kuala Lumpur as visitors looked on.

In South Korea, the festivals were more solemn, with refugees from the 1950-53 Korean War and their descendants paying respects to ancestors at the Demilitarized Zone dividing the country from communist North Korea.

Taiwanese marked the start of the new year with a mad rush to be the first to plant a stick of incense in a temple censor, with the victor receiving a prize and blessings for a prosperous 2018.

___

Visit the AP Images blog: http://apimagesblog.com

Visit AP Images online: http://www.apimages.com

Must Read

Obama and Putin meet in China amid struggle for Syria deal

Sep 5, 2016

US, Russia struggle to keep alive negotiations to end the bloodshed between U.S.-backed rebels

China imports grow in August for 1st time in 2 years

Sep 8, 2016

China trade showed unexpected strength in August in a positive sign for global economic growth

Asian markets lower after Wall Street decline

Sep 15, 2016

Asian stock markets were mostly lower Thursday following Wall Street's decline in light trading...

Aid groups warn of crisis as Mongolia hit by harsh winter

Dec 21, 2016

Another unusually harsh winter in Mongolia that's decimating livestock and sending temperatures to...

Chinese carrier carries out fighter drills on open seas

Dec 24, 2016

China's military says its first aircraft carrier group has carried out a series of fighter launch,...