Asia welcomes Year of the Pig with banquets, temple visits

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A Lion dance with LED lights, performs on the glass deck of the King Power Mahanakhon building, currently Thailand’s tallest at 314 meters (1,030 feet) tall, in Bangkok. Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Pig on Tuesday with visits to temples, family banquets and the world’s biggest travel spree. Locally, religious ceremonies began the holiday, followed by dragon and lion dances, cultural shows and acrobats. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
A Lion dance with LED lights, performs on the glass deck of the King Power Mahanakhon building, currently Thailand’s tallest at 314 meters (1,030 feet) tall, in Bangkok. Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Pig on Tuesday with visits to temples, family banquets and the world’s biggest travel spree. Locally, religious ceremonies began the holiday, followed by dragon and lion dances, cultural shows and acrobats. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Beijing (AP) – Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Pig on Tuesday with visits to temples, family banquets and the world’s biggest travel spree.

Celebrations took place throughout the region, from Beijing and Seoul to Hanoi and Singapore.

A performer dressed as an emperor, center, participates in a Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good harvest and fortune at a temple fair in Ditan Park in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A performer dressed as an emperor, center, participates in a Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good harvest and fortune at a temple fair in Ditan Park in Beijing. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

In Bangkok, people lit incense sticks and burned paper money and other symbolic offerings for deceased relatives despite government appeals to avoid contributing to smog.

Some shopkeepers sold symbolic ballots to burn as offerings following official promises of an election this year, the first after four years of military rule.

The streets of Beijing and other major Chinese cities were quiet and empty after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year’s biggest family holiday.

Families gathered at home for multigenerational banquets. Companies, shops and government offices closed for official holidays that ranged from two days in South Korea to a week in China.

Worshippers stood in line for hours at Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the new year by lighting incense.

Lana Wong, a prominent Hong Kong actress, wore a pig costume for the event.

“My first wish is for world peace,” said Wong, 88. “Everyone has food to eat, employment and houses to live in. The elderly also hope the government will take better care of them.”

In Beijing, performers in traditional Qing dynasty robes strummed zithers for a re-enactment at sunrise of a sacrificial ceremony at the Chinese capital’s Temple of Earth park.

An actor portraying an emperor bowed before an altar with dozens of people in ceremonial dress behind him.

Acrobats and drummers also performed. Vendors sold toys branded with the British cartoon character Peppa Pig, which is enjoying a surge of popularity for the Year of the Pig.

Performers take part in a night parade to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Performers take part in a night parade to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

“My wishes for new year are a promotion, a raise and finding a boyfriend,” said a spectator, Cui Di, a 28-year-old employee of a foreign company.

The holiday in mainland China is marked by the biggest annual travel boom as hundreds of millions of people visit their home towns or travel abroad.

The railway ministry forecast mainland travelers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday.

Chinese set off billions of fireworks to celebrate the new year.

In the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, visitors left bouquets of flowers at statues of former leaders Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il.

Two divers perform an underwater Chinese Lion Dance at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Two divers perform an underwater Chinese Lion Dance at Aquaria KLCC underwater park in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)
Performers take part in a night parade to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Performers take part in a night parade to celebrate Chinese New Year in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Mutlitple dragon dances take part in Lunar New Year celebrations in the Chinatown area of Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Mutlitple dragon dances take part in Lunar New Year celebrations in the Chinatown area of Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
A fire-eater performs during celebrations of the Lunar New Year Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in the Chinatown district of Manila. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A fire-eater performs during celebrations of the Lunar New Year Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in the Chinatown district of Manila. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Ethnic Chinese-Thai light candles after praying at the Leng Nuei Yee Chinese temple for the Lunar New Year in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Ethnic Chinese-Thai light candles after praying at the Leng Nuei Yee Chinese temple for the Lunar New Year in Bangkok. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)
Filipino-Chinese display piggy banks at the start of celebrations for Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manila. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Filipino-Chinese display piggy banks at the start of celebrations for Lunar New Year in Chinatown, Manila. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
People bow in front of statues of North Korean late leaders, Kim Il Sung, left, and his son Kim Jong Il, after laying bouquets of flowers in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Lunar New Year’s Day. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
People bow in front of statues of North Korean late leaders, Kim Il Sung, left, and his son Kim Jong Il, after laying bouquets of flowers in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Lunar New Year’s Day. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)