HEADLINE Spring Festival sets world's largest annual human migration into motion


Spring Festival sets world's largest annual human migration into motion

Global Times

02:35, February 15, 2018

A vendor selling Lunar New Year decorations waits for customers at a wholesale market in Beijing, Tuesday. Chinese worldwide are preparing to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year on Friday with family reunions, firecrackers, and traditional food as they welcome the Year of the Dog. Photo: AP

As Spring Festival, the most important festival for Chinese, approaches, emotions associated with "coming home" dominate the country's social media platforms.
The phrase was searched or mentioned in articles on WeChat more than 112 million times on Tuesday. From February 5 to Sunday, more than 787,000 Sina Weibo messages containing the phrase were posted. 
Spring Festival, or Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Friday this year. 
Phrases like "looking forward to," "happy," "family" and "reunion" were also among the most frequently mentioned words on Sina Weibo during the past week.
The joyous mood is felt stronger with new ways to continue Spring Festival customs and tradition. The most popular one is offering hongbao, or red envelopes containing money, to friends and family members. 
Another custom, writing chunlian, or Spring Festival couplets, has also been reworked. Tencent AI Lab has launched a service to write a chunlian that begins with two words provided by users. 
Also trending on social media are tips on how to answer frequently asked questions from family members who some people meet only once a year, such as "Are you still single?" "Without child? and "Why?"
In China, the week-long Spring Festival holiday starts on Thursday, during which family gatherings, meeting friends and attending banquets are common.
The page of "tips to survive Spring Festival" has been viewed more than 65 million times on knowledge-sharing site Zhihu.
During the holidays, cities across China will generally witness good air quality while shooting off fireworks might be the primary cause of air pollution, according to a press release sent by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on Tuesday. 
"Chinese people's way of celebrating the festival has changed from a carnival ritual to a more restrained and environmentally friendly manner, due to lifestyle changes and concerns over pollution," Zhang Yiwu, a professor of Chinese literature at Peking University, told the Global Times.
Nearly 2.98 billion trips are expected to be made during the chunyun, or Spring Festival travel rush, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese, mostly migrant workers, will go home on motorcycles. 
For those workers, riding a motorcycle is more convenient than taking a bus or train as they mostly live in small villages where public transportation is not always easy to come by. 
Workers on motorcycles usually head for South China's Guangdong Province, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Central China's Hunan Province, and East China's Jiangxi and Fujian provinces, the Beijing-based Economic Observer reported Saturday. 
This year will be the fourth time Qi Jixiang, a 30-year-old man from Guangxi's Hezhou city, chose to ride his motorcycle during chunyun. 
"It costs less, and I feel freer," he told the Global Times. 
The trip from Guangzhou to his hometown will take 10 hours and cost around 100 yuan by motorcycle, while a bus trip will cost four times more. A high-speed train ride only costs 80 yuan and takes 90 minutes. However, the tickets were sold out soon after they were made available. 
"I hesitated coming home, fearing my life might disappoint my elder parents, However, everybody in my family are back home and it felt like something was missing when I was alone elsewhere," Qi said. 
Chinese studying or living overseas are also planning celebrations that started last week. One of the first to open was the "New Era, New Journey" Spring Festival Gala on Thursday in London, organized by the local student association and supported by the Chinese embassy in the UK, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Around 380 million domestic trips are expected during the week-long holidays, according to the China National Tourism Bureau. The top three domestic destinations are Hainan, Beijing and Northeast cities, while the top three overseas destinations are mostly in Southeast Asia. 
As one of the most influential festivals in the world, Chinese New Year celebrations will also be held in more than 400 cities in over 130 countries and regions, according to the State Council Information Office.

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