Lion Dances, Fireworks and Incense: Lunar New Year Celebrations Underway to Ring in Year of the Dog

In Beijing, China, crowds bundled to light incense at the Lama temple, praying for good fortune and good health in the New Year.

Lunar New Year festivities are underway, and major cities all over the world are turning red and gold in celebration.

The holiday, sometimes known as Chinese New Year even though it is celebrated by many East Asian countries, commemorates the first day of the lunar calendar marked by cycles of the moon.

Depending on the location, festivities can last up to a week, as is the case of Vietnamese New Year. Chinese New Year lasts 15 days.

Lunar New Year is typically a family holiday honoring deities and ancestors, with billions across Asia making the pilgrimage home every year in time for celebrations.

In Beijing, China, locals gathered at Ditan Park, where shops selling New Year’s lanterns and food stalls serving regional cuisines attracted masses to their annual fare.

Crowds also bundled up to brave the 30-degree weather to light incense at the Lama Temple, praying for good fortune and good health in the New Year.

Similarly in Taipei, Taiwan, many paid a visit to Longshan Temple to light incense and pray for a prosperous year.

In Hong Kong, performers wearing dresses reminiscent of the five-petal orchid that appears on their flag danced in a nighttime parade held in the Tsim Sha Tsui neighborhood. The parade also saw an acrobatic lion dance and musical performances.

Amid celebrations, Hong Kong shelters are warning irresponsible pet owners not to adopt dogs as gifts to celebrate the Year of the Dog.

Kunming, in south China’s Yunnan province, celebrated with a regional tradition of splashing hot molten iron in the air as young entertainers performed a dragon dance, with fireworks exploding out of the puppet as it marched.

"We will not get burnt as long as we keep on jumping and moving left and right,” said one of the performers, who told the Associated Press he has been training for several years.

Abroad, in San Francisco's Chinatown, locals waited in long lines to buy groceries to prepare family feasts.

“It’s a tradition every year," one shopper told KPIX. "We just buy things every year to put at home for decorations and to welcome the new year."