Asia welcomes Year of the Pig with banquets, temple visits

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, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. The lunar Year of the Pig is celebrated around Asia. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
People light sticks of incense in a cauldron as they pray at the Lama Temple in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Chinese people are celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, the Year of the Pig on the Chinese zodiac. (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, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Chinese people are celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, the Year of the Pig on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
With a balloon shaped as an earth pig, a homeless child reacts at passersby as Filipino -Chinese celebrate the Lunar New Year Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in the Chinatown district of Manila, Philippines. This year is the Year of the Earth Pig in the Chinese Lunar calendar and is supposed to represent abundance, diligence and generosity. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
A North Korean refugee woman prays for her ancestors in North Korea as she visits the border to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A woman holds sticks of incense as she prays at the Lama Temple in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Chinese people are celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, the Year of the Pig on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Dragon dance performers snake through the crowd during the celebrations of the Lunar New Year Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in the Chinatown district of Manila, Philippines. This year is the Year of the Earth Pig in the Chinese Lunar calendar and is supposed to represent abundance, diligence and generosity. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
People visit statues of North Korean late leaders, Kim Il Sung and his son Kim Jong Il, to lay bouquets of flowers in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Lunar New Year's Day, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. The lunar Year of the Pig is celebrated around Asia. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
A fire-eater performs during celebrations of the Lunar New Year Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in the Chinatown district of Manila, Philippines. This year is the Year of the Earth Pig in the Chinese Lunar calendar and is supposed to represent abundance, diligence and generosity. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)
Participants take part in a flame-breathing lion dance during the Lunar New Year celebrations Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, in the Chinatown area of Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
A South Korean family pose in front of ribbons placed on a barbed wire fence with messages wishing for the reunification of the two Koreas as they visit the border to celebrate the Lunar New Year at the Imjingak Pavilion, near the demilitarized zone of Panmunjom, in Paju, South Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
An Indonesian ethnic Chinese woman holds incense sticks as she pray during the celebration of the Lunar New Year at a temple on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
A woman holds sticks of incense as she prays at the Lama Temple in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Chinese people are celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, the Year of the Pig on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
People hold floral bouquets and sticks of incense as they pray at the Lama Temple in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Chinese people are celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, the Year of the Pig on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
An Indonesian ethnic Chinese woman prays during the celebration of the Lunar New Year at a temple on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)
Mutlitple dragon dances take part in Lunar New Year celebrations Tuesday, Feb.5, 2019, in the Chinatown area of Yangon, Myanmar. (AP Photo/Thein Zaw)
Performers are silhouetted as they stand during a Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good harvest and fortune at a temple fair at Ditan Park in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. Chinese people are celebrating the first day of the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, the Year of the Pig on the Chinese zodiac. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Indonesian ethnic Chinese pray during the celebration of the Lunar New Year at a temple on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

BEIJING — 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.

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.

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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."

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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 as 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.

"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.

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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.

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Chinese set off billions of fireworks to celebrate the new year. An explosion at an illegal fireworks shop in southern China killed five people early Tuesday. Investigators said it was triggered by fireworks set off by the shopkeeper outside the shop.

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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.

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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.

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