In Beijing and other major Chinese cities streets were quiet after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year’s biggest family holiday.
China‘s railway ministry forecast mainland travellers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday, the country’s biggest annual travel boom.
Chinese New Year is celebrated with fireworks and red lanterns, with many returning to their hometowns as families gathered for multigenerational banquets.
The Year of the Pig is believed to be a symbol of optimism and wealth.
On the eve of the new year, people gathered for reunion dinners, gave red packets of pocket money to youngsters and lit firecrackers at midnight.
Shops, companies and government offices closed for the holiday, which ranges from two days in South Korea to a week in China.
In homes and in shops, pig dolls were displayed for the festival, which is also celebrated in Vietnam and Cambodia and by ethnic Chinese communities across Asia.
Early on Tuesday, the first day of the Year of the Pig, hundreds lined up outside their local temples to burn the first joss sticks of the year, expecting it to bring them good luck.
Ornaments were readied, kiosks set up, and traditional dragon dancers leapt in the air. Everywhere, the color red dominated — on lanterns, clothes and signs.
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.
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 stood behind him.
Acrobats and drummers also performed. Vendors sold toys branded with the UK cartoon character Peppa Pig, which is enjoying a surge of popularity for the Year of the Pig.
Worshippers stood in line for hours at Hong Kong‘s Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the new year by lighting incense.
Additional reporting by agencies
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