Asians greet Year of the Pig with feasts and prayers
Lunar New Year â€“ this year to be called the Year of
the Pig â€“ started on Sunday, with celebrations in many Asian countries â€“ and in
any Chinese community around the world.
The fireworks in China are an ancient New Year tradition
meant to drive away bad luck and scare off evil spirits. Streets were littered
with tattered red paper and cardboard casings from spent
The previous week already saw 'the world's biggest human
migration', as hundreds of millions of Chinese entered trains, planes, buses and
boats to go home for the festivities.
In Hong Kong, the usually bustling streets
were empty as families gathered for New Year feasts and visited
At Hong Kong Disneyland, Mickey and Minnie Mouse changed
their usual western clothes for traditional Chinese outfits.
Taiwan, worshippers gathered at temples, holding incense sticks and bowing in
the direction of Buddhist and Taoist deities for good luck.
Korea, highways were congested as millions of people began the journey back to
the cities after visiting their hometowns for the New Year.
In New York's
Chinatown in downtown Manhattan, thousands of people went wild in celebration,
firing off a barrage of confetti, dancing in traditional lion costumes and
devouring countless dumplings.
Even Pope Benedict XVI sent his wishes
to everyone celebrating the Lunar New Year during his weekly appearance from his
window overlooking St Peter's Square in Rome.
The pig is one of 12
animals (or mythical animals in the case of the dragon) on the 12-year cycle of
the Chinese zodiac, which follows the lunar calendar. According to Chinese
astrology, people born in pig years are polite, honest, hardworking and
They are also lucky, which is why hospitals are expecting a
baby boom in the Year of the Pig.
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