BEIJING – Hundreds of people queued up in front of the Lama’s Temple in Beijing on Friday to pay their respects and mark the first day of the Chinese New Year as well as the beginning of the Spring Festival.
A halo of smoke and fragrance enveloped the temple as it opened its doors to the devotees, who thronged the temple for rituals and prayers to bring in the year of the dog and seeing-off the year of the rooster.
Chinese cities across the country were decorated with red lanterns and came alive with prayers, religious offerings, traditional festivities, all dominated by the color red, a symbol of good luck in China.
Around 900,000 security officials were deployed across the country to maintain law and order and ensure official bans on firecrackers were respected.
In the Temple of the Earth, thousands attended a traditional re-enactment of a ritual of imperial sacrifice by the Qing dynasty to worship the Earth, performed by dozens of people in traditional costumes.
Parks across the country have been hosting new year festivities offering traditional food and souvenirs and featuring cultural performances, including dragon dances, and themed parades.
At the Ditan park, the “Miaohui” as the New Year celebrations are known, will go on for the next five days and 1 million to 1.2 million visitors are expected, Ditan spokesperson, Guo Cailing, told EFE.
The celebrations started Thursday night when families had gathered to bid farewell to the old year, sweeping their homes to drive away bad luck, according to Chinese tradition.
The arrival of the New Year is also synonymous with “hongbao,” meaning red envelope, referring to the traditional practice of gifting loved ones cash in red envelopes, although sending money through mobile applications have gained in popularity of late.
Pictures of dogs flooded the streets of Beijing, with many wondering if this year will bring better days for these animals in China.
Although the Yulin Dog meat festival continues to be held in southern China, the canines are becoming increasingly popular as pets in the country and it is expected that they will be better protected during the Year of the Dog.