The Lunar New Year across Asia
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The Lunar New Year across Asia

SATURDAY marks the start of the Lunar New Year of the Rooster and millions of families across Asia will reunite for festivities, fireworks and food. Here are some examples of how the year of the Fire Rooster is celebrated and how it was ushered in.

The Chinese New Year holiday is normally marked by displays of fireworks and firecrackers, which are believed to scare off evil spirits. The burning of firecrackers also signifies a time for joy and is considered to bring good luck and fortune.

This year’s celebration is quieter than normal in Beijing, China as the Government is cracking down to prevent a recurrence of the smog which has cloaked and chocked large parts of northern China this winter. However, millions of people still celebrated in the streets.

According to Channel News Asia, the Lunar New Year was ushered in with the bells at Beijing’s central bell tower rung 108 times at the stroke of midnight and fireworks were noticeably less in the Chinese capital.


People watch fireworks explode on the eve of the Spring Festival, in Beijing, China, January 27, 2017. Picture taken January 27, 2017. REUTERS/Iris Zhao

Meanwhile in Hong Kong, according to the South China Morning Post, huge crowds of people gathered on Lunar New Year eve on Friday at Victoria Park despite a fear of unrest due to posters calling on people to “take back” Hong Kong’s largest festive market.

This comes two years after street protests failed to achieve greater public participation selecting Hong Kong’s leader.

Over in the Philippines, according to the Rappler, both the Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and the Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua led the new year’s eve countdown at Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz in Binondo, Manila.

The crowd was entertained with a grand fireworks display as well as the traditional dragon and lion dances. The two leaders also distributed tikoys otherwise known as rice cakes to the people gathered for the occasion.


A dragon dance troupe performs during the Lunar New Year celebrations in Chinatown in Manila, Philippines January 28, 2017. REUTERS

In his first Chinese new year message as President of the Philippines, Rodrigo Duterte called on Filipinos and Chinese to “fortify” goodwill between their peoples.

“May all of us develop a more profound appreciation of our heritage as two distinct yet intertwined peoples, and further fortify the goodwill that we have shared over the years,” said Rappler quoted Duterte as saying in his message sent to media on Friday.

Duterte has made headlines internationally by his friendlier disposition towards China more so than his predecessor, former president Benigno Aquino III.

And in Thailand, this year’s Lunar New Year celebrations are quite different from what they have normally been as the country is still in mourning following the passing of King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Oct 13 last year.

Traditionally people who celebrate the Lunar New Year would wear striking colours, especially red, as it is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good fortune. However, seeing as Thailand is still in the 100 day morning period and donning colourful clothes could be seen as disrespectful, many have opted to wear black traditional clothing with gold embroidery for the more subdued festivities this year.


A Thai woman buy clothes to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand January 24, 2017 . REUTERS

Those are just some of the many wonderful ways the Lunar New Year is ushered in and celebrated across Asia.

Additional reporting from Reuters.