HONG KONG -- In Sik Sik Yuen Wong Tai Sin Temple, a well-known shrine and tourist attraction in Hong Kong, large crowds came early Sunday morning to pray for blessings.
With the adjustment of the COVID-19 pandemic prevention policy, the streets and lanes of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) during this year's Spring Festival, which falls on Sunday, are filled with a warm and festive atmosphere.
On Lunar New Year's Eve, a large number of people headed to the Wong Tai Sin Temple to take part in a ritual to be the first to offer incense to the temple's deity at the stroke of midnight after a two-year hiatus.
On the first day of the Lunar New Year, a large number of people also came to the temple to worship.
A woman with her surname Wong said, "The temple is filled with a festive atmosphere. I am so happy and blessed."
Affected by the pandemic, the scale of the Lunar New Year Fair in Hong Kong was reduced in the past two years or canceled for a lower risk of crowd gathering.
While this year's fairs were held at 15 locations for seven days from Jan. 16, attracting more than 1.14 million visitors. Jan. 21 was the peak, with more than 100,000 visitors rushing to the fair at Victoria Park on a single day.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Well-wishing Festival 2023 at Lam Tsuen in Tai Po, which is noted for its wishing trees, saw the most bustling day of the year.
As one of the most distinct Chinese New Year festivities in Hong Kong, the well-wishing festival, which runs through Feb. 5 from Sunday, has attracted locals and visitors to Lam Tsuen to take part in the traditional celebration by throwing placards onto the wishing tree and lighting wishing lanterns.
"I hope the Hong Kong economy will be better than last year. I hope Hong Kong will be prosperous and everyone here will be happy," said a Hong Kong resident with the surname of Yeung.
Chan Kwok-ki, chief secretary for administration of the HKSAR government, attended the well-wishing festival on Sunday, saying that the event is very meaningful, not only because it has a traditional cultural atmosphere, but also a chance for people to get together.
With the resumption of normal travel between Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland, more mainland tourists came to Hong Kong, adding a lively atmosphere to the Spring Festival.
John Lee Ka-chiu, chief executive of the HKSAR, delivered a Lunar New Year message on Saturday, wishing all Hong Kong people a happy, healthy and blessed Year of the Rabbit.
Lunar New Year is the most important festival on the Chinese calendar, Lee said, adding that the rabbit is a symbol of great vitality, so the Lunar New Year is seen as heralding a new start and new hope for Hong Kong.
"Our economy will continue to grow and our tourist attractions will be filled with visitors," he said.