Lunar New Year sets off world’s largest human migration

Chinese are lighting incense sticks and praying at temples to wish for an auspicious start to the Lunar New Year. Other New Year’s traditions include the eating of dumplings in northern China and the lighting of fireworks. The Lunar New Year, often referred to as Chinese New Year or China’s Spring Festival although the event is celebrated across East Asia, is a 15-day holiday when people travel to their hometowns. According to estimates, 2.5 billion Chinese will travel home by bus during the holiday, while another 350 million will travel by train, and 60 million by plane.

I get to go back just once a year. It’s a long way.

Xu Zhengming

The holiday is always celebrated on the first new moon between Jan. 21 and Feb. 20. This year the holiday falls on Jan. 28, which will begin the Year of the Fire Rooster. The Chinese zodiac cycle has 12 different animals, so the previous Year of the Rooster was 2005. Each animal year also rotates between five different element signs: Gold, Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth. Element-sign combinations only reoccur every 60 years, so the last Year of the Fire Rooster was 1957.