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APPHOTOS: Asia welcomes Lunar New Year of the Dragon with temple visits and celebrations

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People across Asia welcomed the Lunar New Year on Saturday with family gatherings, festivals and temple visits to ask for blessings.

The Lunar New Year is the most important annual holiday in China, a time for reunions with relatives and friends and to enjoy festive feasts. Each year is named after one of the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac, with this year being the Year of the Dragon — widely considered the most auspicious zodiac sign in Chinese communities.

The Year of the Dragon is also a popular year to give birth for Chinese because many couples hope their children will possess remarkable qualities symbolized by dragons, including strength, power and success.

Women take a selfie with a giant dragon lantern decorated near the frozen Houhai Lake in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Women take a selfie with a giant dragon lantern decorated near the frozen Houhai Lake in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Many residents of Hong Kong dressed in red, a lucky color in Chinese culture, to mark the start of the year. In gatherings, they savored rice cakes and turnip cakes, with children receiving cash-stuffed red envelopes as blessings from their married relatives. Outdoor exhibitions and floral displays prepared for the festival offered a chance for revelers to pose for photos.

In Beijing, crowds of people flocked to temple fairs to see traditional folk performances and bought snacks and artwork from booths. Many lit incense sticks to pray for good health and fortune.

Along with the predominantly Chinese societies in the Greater China region, the festival is also celebrated in South Korea, Vietnam and in overseas Chinese communities. In Myanmar and Malaysia, worshippers visited temples to pray for good luck and blessings. In Dharamshala, India, exiled Tibetan monks also took part in ceremonies to mark their new year.

Residents shop for prosperity decorations on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, at a pavement shop in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Residents shop for prosperity decorations on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, at a pavement shop in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Chinese performers dressed in traditional costumes wait to participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Chinese performers dressed in traditional costumes wait to participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Chinese dragon dancers and performers dressed in traditional costumes wait to participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Chinese dragon dancers and performers dressed in traditional costumes wait to participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple during the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Shoppers crowd for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations at the Dihua street market in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (APPhoto/Chiang Ying-ying)

Shoppers crowd for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations at the Dihua street market in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (APPhoto/Chiang Ying-ying)

Dancers in lion, dragon and a pig costumes perform to mark the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Wooden Dragon, in Lima, Peru, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. (APPhoto/Martin Mejia)

Dancers in lion, dragon and a pig costumes perform to mark the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Wooden Dragon, in Lima, Peru, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. (APPhoto/Martin Mejia)

Malaysian ethnic Chinese pray on the first day of Lunar New Year's holidays at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 10 this year, marking the start of the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac. (APPhoto/Vincent Thian)

Malaysian ethnic Chinese pray on the first day of Lunar New Year’s holidays at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 10 this year, marking the start of the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac. (APPhoto/Vincent Thian)

Chinese dragon dancers perform at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Chinese dragon dancers perform at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

An Indonesian ethnic Chinese man lights joss sticks during the Lunar New Year celebration at a temple in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, early Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Chinese around the globe are celebrating Lunar New Year that marks the year of the dragon on the Chinese calendar this year. (APPhoto/Binsar Bakkara)

An Indonesian ethnic Chinese man lights joss sticks during the Lunar New Year celebration at a temple in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, early Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Chinese around the globe are celebrating Lunar New Year that marks the year of the dragon on the Chinese calendar this year. (APPhoto/Binsar Bakkara)

A woman touches the lion dance as residents watch traditional artists performance at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

A woman touches the lion dance as residents watch traditional artists performance at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Malaysian ethnic Chinese pray on the first day of Lunar New Year's holidays at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 10 this year, marking the start of the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac. (APPhoto/Vincent Thian)

Malaysian ethnic Chinese pray on the first day of Lunar New Year’s holidays at a temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. The Chinese Lunar New Year falls on Feb. 10 this year, marking the start of the Year of the Dragon, according to the Chinese zodiac. (APPhoto/Vincent Thian)

A man selects prosperity decorations on display for sale at a pavement shop on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

A man selects prosperity decorations on display for sale at a pavement shop on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Visitors tour underneath a giant dragon lantern reflected on the frozen Houhai Lake in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Chinese will celebrate Lunar New Year on Feb. 10 this year which marks the Year of the dragon on the Chinese zodiac. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Visitors tour underneath a giant dragon lantern reflected on the frozen Houhai Lake in Beijing, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Chinese will celebrate Lunar New Year on Feb. 10 this year which marks the Year of the dragon on the Chinese zodiac. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Residents watch Chinese performers dressed in traditional costumes participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Residents watch Chinese performers dressed in traditional costumes participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

North Korean children play folk games at the Kim Il Sung Square on the occasion of Lunar New Year in Pyongyang, North Korea Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Cha Song Ho)

North Korean children play folk games at the Kim Il Sung Square on the occasion of Lunar New Year in Pyongyang, North Korea Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Cha Song Ho)

Members of Cambodian Chinese community perform lion dance on Friday morning, Feb. 9, 2024, in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, ahead of Lunar New Year. (APPhoto/Heng Sinith)

Members of Cambodian Chinese community perform lion dance on Friday morning, Feb. 9, 2024, in front of Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, ahead of Lunar New Year. (APPhoto/Heng Sinith)

A woman takes a picture of red lanterns and decorations on display along the trees ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Ditan Park in Beijing, Feb. 4, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

A woman takes a picture of red lanterns and decorations on display along the trees ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year at Ditan Park in Beijing, Feb. 4, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Divers perform an underwater lion dance at the KLCC Aquaria ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Feb. 4, 2024. (APPhoto/Vincent Thian)

Divers perform an underwater lion dance at the KLCC Aquaria ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Feb. 4, 2024. (APPhoto/Vincent Thian)

Local Chinese present a red envelop, or hongbao, to lion dance performers during a cerebration to mark the Lunar New Year at Chinatown Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. (APPhoto/Thein Zaw)

Local Chinese present a red envelop, or hongbao, to lion dance performers during a cerebration to mark the Lunar New Year at Chinatown Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024, in Yangon, Myanmar. (APPhoto/Thein Zaw)

Chinese performers dressed in traditional costumes participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Chinese performers dressed in traditional costumes participate in a performance at the Dongyue Temple on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Andy Wong)

Lucky charms are displayed beside an artwork on a wall at Binondo district, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world, in Manila, Philippines on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (APPhoto/Aaron Favila)

Lucky charms are displayed beside an artwork on a wall at Binondo district, said to be the oldest Chinatown in the world, in Manila, Philippines on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024. (APPhoto/Aaron Favila)

Exile Tibetan Buddhist monks blow ceremonial conch shells during an early morning prayer session to mark the first day of the Lunar New Year at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamshala, India, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Ashwini Bhatia)

Exile Tibetan Buddhist monks blow ceremonial conch shells during an early morning prayer session to mark the first day of the Lunar New Year at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamshala, India, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Ashwini Bhatia)

Shoppers browse plants at a flower market ahead of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Hong Kong, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (APPhoto/Louise Delmotte)

Shoppers browse plants at a flower market ahead of the Lunar New Year of the Dragon in Hong Kong, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. (APPhoto/Louise Delmotte)

A man holds up a dragon decoration in a traditional Lunar New Year market in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Vietnam is preparing to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Dragon, the most popular festive event of the year. (APPhoto/Huy Han)

A man holds up a dragon decoration in a traditional Lunar New Year market in Hanoi, Vietnam Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Vietnam is preparing to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Dragon, the most popular festive event of the year. (APPhoto/Huy Han)

North Korean refugees and their family members pray to respect for their ancestors in North Korea as they visit the Imjingak Pavilion, near the border with the North, to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Ahn Young-joon)

North Korean refugees and their family members pray to respect for their ancestors in North Korea as they visit the Imjingak Pavilion, near the border with the North, to celebrate the Lunar New Year in Paju, South Korea, Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. (APPhoto/Ahn Young-joon)

People pray during the Lunar New Year celebration at a temple in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, early Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Chinese around the globe are celebrating the Lunar New Year that marks the year of the dragon on the Chinese calendar. (APPhoto/Binsar Bakkara)

People pray during the Lunar New Year celebration at a temple in Medan, North Sumatra, Indonesia, early Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Chinese around the globe are celebrating the Lunar New Year that marks the year of the dragon on the Chinese calendar. (APPhoto/Binsar Bakkara)

Worshippers hold incense sticks as they pray during Lunar New Year celebration at Satya Dharma temple in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Chinese around the globe are celebrating the Lunar New Year that marks of the dragon on the Chinese calendar this year. (APPhoto/Firdia Lisnawati)

Worshippers hold incense sticks as they pray during Lunar New Year celebration at Satya Dharma temple in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2024. Chinese around the globe are celebrating the Lunar New Year that marks of the dragon on the Chinese calendar this year. (APPhoto/Firdia Lisnawati)