China Marks Lunar New Year

BEIJING (AP) -- 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.

(KA)