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Lunar New Year begins in a riot of color
Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

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.

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Actors perform on stage during The Beauty of China Opera show at Pakuwon Ballroom on January 30, 2014 in Surabaya, Indonesia. Chinese opera is an important traditional art performance of music and drama which has been performed for over 500 years, however popularity has been on the decline in today's modern society.

(Robertus Pudyanto - AFP/Getty Images)
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Chinese performers during a traditional Qing Dynasty ceremony in which emperors prayed for good fortune, during Lunar New Year festivities at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on January 31, 2014.

(MARK RALSTON - AFP/Getty Images)
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Chinese worshippers hang prayer tablets on a sacred tree at the Dongyue Temple in the hope that it brings them prosperity and good fortune for the Year of the Horse in Beijing on January 31, 2014.

(MARK RALSTON - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman holds incense sticks as she attends prayers during Chinese New Year celebrations for the Year of The Horse at Bun San Bio Temple on January 31, 2014 in Tangerang, Indonesia.

(Oscar Siagian - AFP/Getty Images)
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Performers take part in a Chinese New Year parade in Hong Kong on January 31, 2014. Chinese communities across Asia have come together to usher in the Year of the Horse.

(PHILIPPE LOPEZ - AFP/Getty Images)
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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.

(PHILIPPE LOPEZ - AFP/Getty Images)
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This picture taken on January 28, 2014 shows a worker putting the final touches on a horse statue in Beijing for the Lunar New Year, marking the Year of the Horse starting on January 31. The lunar calendar is based on the cycles of the moon and through Chinese folklore ascribes 12 animals, one for each year in the rotating cycle. The horse is in the seventh position.

(STR - AFP/Getty Images)
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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.

(WANG ZHAO - AFP/Getty Images)
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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.

(MARK RALSTON - AFP/Getty Images)
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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. The Lunar New Year falls on January 31 and marks the beginning of the year of the horse in China.

(PHILIPPE LOPEZ - AFP/Getty Images)
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A Balinese woman cleans a statue during preparations for the Lunar New Year of the Horse at Dwipayana Tanah Kilap Temple on January 25, 2014 in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia. Devotees purify holy statues and cleanse the temples as part of preparations for the Lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, that will be celebrated on January 31.

(Agung Parameswara - AFP/Getty Images)
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A tourist carrying a child over his shoulder walks past a God of Fortune statue displayed as part of the Lunar new year decorations in Singapore on January 28, 2014. The Lunar New Year of the Horse begins January 31.

(ROSLAN RAHMAN - AFP/Getty Images)
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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.

(ChinaFotoPress - AFP/Getty Images)
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In this picture taken on January 27, 2014, a woman uses a loudspeaker to attract customers at a stall of 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.

(PHILIPPE LOPEZ - AFP/Getty Images)
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A woman waits outside a train station in Beijing as crowds rush home for the Lunar New Year on January 29, 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.

(MARK RALSTON - AFP/Getty Images)
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