singapore horse
Revellers walk amongst lanterns during ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations at Marina Bay in Singapore Reuters

Chinese New Year 2014 has begun, setting off 15 days of celebrations in China and countries around the world with a sizeable Chinese population.

The Lunar New Year will end on the day of Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first month of Chinese calendar.

The first day of the 2014 Chinese New Year opened with Chinese people burning incense sticks in the wee hours to pray for good fortune.

This year, China will observe low-key celebrations as the government asked people to set off fewer fireworks because of concerns about air pollution, Reuters reported.

Fireworks, an integral component of the celebrations, are believed to bring good fortune and scare off evil spirits.

The Year of the Horse

In the Chinese zodiac, Sheng Xiao, each Lunar New Year is linked to an animal sign. This year, it is the Year of the Horse.

In Chinese beliefs, the horse signifies fortune, communication, fame, finance and success. For those born in the Year of the Horse (2014, 2002, 1990, 1978 etc), this Chinese New Year is expected to bring conflicts and fluctuations in finance, warned astrologers.

Lunar New year welcomed in Asia

Chinese New Year erupted in celebrations in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mauritius and the Philippines.

London, which has the largest Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, is geared up for the celebrations on 2 February.

In Singapore, people rushed to plant the first joss stick of the year at the stroke of midnight at temples all over the city-state. Joss sticks are said to bring prosperity and encourage longevity if kept burning throughout the celebrations.

In Kuala Lumpur, red lanterns were hung in almost every temple.