Chinese communities around the world began celebrating the Chinese New Year with customary riotous firework displays.

Celebrations began well into Thursday night in Beijing and large crowds lined up on Friday morninge outside temples to be among the first to pray for good fortune.

This year is signified by the horse, a dynamic animal in Chinese mythology conducive to achievement.

"The year of the horse it represents immediate success. It means that if there is something you've been wanting to do, when the year of the horse arrives, you will definitely succeed in doing it. I will succeed too," said 60-year-old salesman Yang Zongtao.

The Chinese New Year lasts for fifteen days and is the longest and most important festivity in the lunar calendar, virtually shutting down mainland China.

It is the only holiday of the year for many.

Airports, train and bus stations saw a crush of holiday travelers, with migrant workers making the lengthy trip back to their rural hometowns and prosperous urban dwellers heading to vacations abroad.

A continuing campaign against waste and corruption foreshadowed more modest celebrations this year, while a crackdown on air pollution attempted to reign the usual orgy of fireworks.

On self-governing Taiwan, revelers jammed into the capital Taipei's historic shopping district to load up on holiday snacks.

Koreans and Vietnamese also celebrate the holiday.

Source: Agencies