Lunar New Year Begins In a Riot of Color 

Heavy smog threatened to cancel the usual riotous fireworks displays around Lunar New Year celebrations in China. But cities in Asia are already bathed in color to welcome the Year of the Horse.

Lunar New Year celebrations in China are usually marked by riotous displays of fireworks, but this year may be quieter.

The country's weather forecaster called for a ban on fireworks, anticipating heavy smog over central and eastern China.

"Firecrackers and fireworks can release large amounts of toxic gas and particles such as sulfur dioxide, which will cause severe air pollution," said Chen Zhenlin, spokesman for the China Meteorological Administration.

But cities in Asia — from Beijing to Hong Kong to Bali — are already bathed in color to welcome the Year of the Horse.

In this picture taken on January 27, 2014, two vendors mind a stall at a Chinese New Year fair in Hong Kong. With the Year of the Snake slithering into history, they say that the incoming Lunar New Year beginning on January 31 is going to be the kind of horse that you shouldnt stand behind -- because it incorporates the volatile element of fire.
  • In this picture taken on January 27, 2014, two vendors mind a stall at a Chinese New Year fair in Hong Kong. With the Year of the Snake slithering into history, they say that the incoming Lunar New Year beginning on January 31 is going to be the kind of horse that you shouldn't stand behind -- because it incorporates the volatile element of fire.

A family visits a park decorated with colorful decals for the upcoming Lunar New Year in Beijing on January 24, 2014. China is preparing to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Horse which falls on January 31.
  • A family visits a park decorated with colorful decals for the upcoming Lunar New Year in Beijing on January 24, 2014. China is preparing to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Horse which falls on January 31.

A couple walk beneath a display of lanterns for the Lunar New Year as China prepares for the Year of the Horse in Beijing on January 28, 2014. China is preparing to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Horse which falls on January 31 and will see about 3.62 billion trips made by Chinese travelers during the 40-day Spring Festival travel period.
  • A couple walk beneath a display of lanterns for the Lunar New Year as China prepares for the Year of the Horse in Beijing on January 28, 2014. China is preparing to welcome the Lunar New Year of the Horse which falls on January 31 and will see about 3.62 billion trips made by Chinese travelers during the 40-day Spring Festival travel period.

A performer wearing a traditional costume looks on during an event organized by a shopping mall to celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Horse in Hong Kong on January 23, 2014.
  • A performer wearing a traditional costume looks on during an event organized by a shopping mall to celebrate the Lunar New Year of the Horse in Hong Kong on January 23, 2014.

People take photos during a lantern show at Yuexiu Park on January 26, 2014 in Guangzhou, China. Chinese people are preparing for the Spring Festival, the year of the horse, which will fall on January 31.
  • People take photos during a lantern show at Yuexiu Park on January 26, 2014 in Guangzhou, China. Chinese people are preparing for the Spring Festival, the year of the horse, which will fall on January 31.
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