RELIGION

China marks Lunar New Year with prayers, incense, fireworks

  • Residents set off fireworks on the eve of Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Chinese worldwide celebrate the Year of the Rooster on Jan 28, 2017 with family reunions and fireworks. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    Residents set off fireworks on the eve of Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Chinese worldwide celebrate the Year of the Rooster on Jan 28, 2017 with family reunions and fireworks. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • A resident lets off sparklers on the eve of Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Chinese worldwide celebrate the Year of the Rooster on Jan 28, 2017 with family reunions and fireworks. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    A resident lets off sparklers on the eve of Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Chinese worldwide celebrate the Year of the Rooster on Jan 28, 2017 with family reunions and fireworks. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

  • A Chinese girl covers her ears as residents set off fireworks on the eve of Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Chinese worldwide celebrate the Year of the Rooster on Jan 28, 2017 with family reunions and fireworks. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

    A Chinese girl covers her ears as residents set off fireworks on the eve of Lunar New Year in Beijing, China, Friday, Jan. 27, 2017. Chinese worldwide celebrate the Year of the Rooster on Jan 28, 2017 with family reunions and fireworks. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)  (The Associated Press)

Chinese are heading to temples and fairs to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year.

Thousands gathered at Beijing's major temples on Saturday, the first day of the Year of the Rooster. Wearing heavy winter coats, they lit incense sticks and bowed as they prayed for good fortune and health.

Beijing's sprawling temple fair opened at Ditan Park, where empty tree branches were festooned with red lanterns and traditional goods and foods were for sale.

Other New Year's traditions include the eating of dumplings in northern China and the lighting of fireworks. Local media reported air pollution levels in Beijing and several other cities shot up Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Ethnic Chinese and others around the world also marked the holiday with celebrations.