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)
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)
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 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)
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 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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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 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 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)
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 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)

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.

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