CHICAGO (CBS) — Celebrations for the Year of the Pig begin Tuesday as the Lunar New Year (also known as the Chinese New Year) kicks off with traditional foods, a parade and other events to usher in prosperity and good luck throughout the year.
The start of the new year is commonly known as the Spring Festival. While the new year begins on February 5, celebrations continue through Feb. 19.READ MORE: Gov. JB Pritzker Announces State Will Reopen Further Under 'Bridge Phase' On May 14; Full Reopening Possible By June 11
The website chinesenewyear.net notes that the pig’s chubby face and big ears “are signs of fortune.” Pigs are considered symbols of wealth.
Preparations for the Lunar New Year usually begin at least a week before the Spring Festival begins. On the 26th day of the last lunar month, festive cakes and puddings are made.The big cleansing is done on the 28th day. Lunar New Year fortune banners are hung on the 29th day.
Chicago’s Chinatown isn’t the only neighborhood in the city to celebrate the Year of the Pig.
On Saturday February 9, the Argyle Lunar New Year celebration takes place beginning at noon and going through 4:00 p.m. between Argyle and Winthrop. Pop- up events at the Bezazian Branch of the Chicago Public Library and the Latin School will host family craft workshops and story time activities.
Asia welcomed the lunar Year of the Pig with visits to temples, family banquets and the world’s biggest travel spree.
Celebrations took place throughout the region, from Beijing and Seoul to Hanoi and Singapore.
The streets of Beijing and other major Chinese cities were quiet and empty after millions of people left to visit relatives or travel abroad during the year’s biggest family holiday.
Families gathered at home for multigenerational banquets. Companies, shops and government offices closed for official holidays that ranged from two days in South Korea to a week in China.
Worshippers stood in line for hours at Hong Kong’s Wong Tai Sin Temple to welcome the new year by lighting incense.READ MORE: Chicago Weather: Isolated Showers Through Sunset
Lana Wong, a prominent Hong Kong actress, wore a pig costume for the event.
“My first wish is for world peace,” said Wong, 88. “Everyone has food to eat, employment and houses to live in. The elderly also hope the government will take better care of them.”
In Beijing, performers in traditional Qing dynasty robes strummed zithers for a re-enactment at sunrise of a sacrificial ceremony at the Chinese capital’s Temple of Earth park.
An actor portraying an emperor bowed before an altar as dozens of people in ceremonial dress behind him.
Acrobats and drummers also performed. Vendors sold toys branded with the British cartoon character Peppa Pig, which is enjoying a surge of popularity for the Year of the Pig.
“My wishes for new year are a promotion, a raise and finding a boyfriend,” said a spectator, Cui Di, a 28-year-old employee of a foreign company.
The holiday in mainland China is marked by the biggest annual travel boom as hundreds of millions of people visit their home towns or travel abroad.
The railway ministry forecast mainland travelers would make 413 million trips during the three-week period around the holiday.
Chinese set off billions of fireworks to celebrate the new year. An explosion at an illegal fireworks shop in southern China killed five people early Tuesday. Investigators said it was triggered by fireworks set off by the shopkeeper outside the shop.
In Bangkok, people lit incense sticks and burned paper money and other symbolic offerings for deceased relatives despite government appeals to avoid contributing to smog.
Some shopkeepers sold symbolic ballots to burn as offerings following official promises of an election this year, the first after four years of military rule.MORE NEWS: Boil Order In Effect, South Side Pumping Station Back Online After Thousands Of Homes Were Without Water
The AP and CNN contributed to this story.