A woman lights incense while praying in a Chinese temple during the celebration of the Lunar New Year in Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: Jorge Silva/Reuters

Beijing - Chinese people celebrated the Lunar New Year on Tuesday, an occasion for families to get together for intimate dinners and welcome the last of the Chinese zodiac's signs, the Pig.

Celebrations in major Chinese cities including Beijing and Shanghai were more quiet than usual after authorities last year banned fireworks due to pollution and safety concerns.

The Lunar New Year is the most important holiday in China, and hundreds of millions of people travel to celebrate it with their families, making it the world's largest annual human migration.

Authorities were expecting a total of almost 3 billion trips by car, train and aeroplane in the 40 days surrounding the holiday.

People walk inside a Chinese temple during the celebration of the Lunar New Year in Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: Jorge Silva/Reuters

On Chinese New Year's Eve, families hold traditional dinners and watch a marathon televised gala. Children receive red envelopes filled with money for good luck.

Despite a slowing economy, more Chinese are travelling abroad during the holidays. Authorities were expecting an average of 1.77 million international trips per day this week - an 8.9-per-cent increase over last year.

Women light candles while praying in a Chinese temple during the celebration of the Lunar New Year in Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: Jorge Silva/Reuters

Nevertheless, experts expect Chinese consumers to be more economical in their shopping compared to previous years due to caution over China's ongoing trade war with the United States.

According to the Chinese zodiac, 2019 is the Year of the Earth Pig, following the Year of the Earth Dog in 2018. Fortune-tellers warn of an economic slowdown, unrest and natural disasters.

dpa