The world’s largest annual human migration is already underway as Chinese people are embarking on long journeys home to celebrate the New Year.
The Chinese Near Year begins Feb. 19, and American businesses hoping to reach more customers (Asian and non-Asian alike) are planning to mark the holiday with promotions designed to bring in the money.
Ahead of the festivity starting on Thursday, 2.8 billion trips are being made across the country – which are being tracked in an impressive real-time heat map that shows where people are leaving and heading to.
Traditionally, gifts of red envelopes filled with cash are given to loved ones on the holiday for good luck. In the Chinese zodiac, each Lunar New Year, which is celebrated by many Asian cultures, is associated with one of 12 animal signs. This is the Year of the Sheep (also referred to as the Year of the Ram or Goat).
The mass exodus of students, migrant labourers, factory workers and office employees setting off on the trip called chun yun, or spring movement, is illustrated by location data collated by Chinese search engine Baidu.
The Year 2015 is the 4712th Chinese year. The Chinese believe that the first king of China was the Yellow King (he was not the first emperor of China). The Yellow King became king in 2697 B.C., therefore China will enter the 4712th year on February 19, 2015. Also, the Chinese Year uses the cycle of 60 Stem-Branch counting systems and the Green Wood Sheep is the 32nd Stem-Branch in the cycle. Since (60 *78) + 32 = 4712, therefore 2015 is the Wooden Sheep year, which is the 4712th Chinese Year.
What is Chinese New Year?
In 2015 most Chinese will be off work from Wednesday, February 18 (New Year’s Eve) to Tuesday, February 24 (the 6th day of Chinese New Year).
Officially only the first three days of Chinese New Year (February 19–21, 2015) are statutory holiday. Chinese New Year’s Eve and three more days are always added to give seven consecutive days of holiday. These four extra days are taken from weekends: the weekend closest to the statutory holiday is included, while the Sunday before (February 15, 2015) and the Saturday after (February 28, 2015) are worked.
It is a festival marking the start of the Chinese new year, which begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. It is the most important holiday for Chinese people worldwide.
How is it celebrated?
People carry out a through clean of their homes in preparation, as it is considered bad luck to “sweep away good luck” on the first two days of the year.
Spring Festival History : The Spring Festival has a history of more than 4,000 years. It is said that it originated from a belief in deities that had to be sacrificed to every year. When the solar terms changed, dictating farming activities, especially at the end of a year, people would sacrifice to the deities and pray for a good harvest.
Paper and lantern decorations are put up. People tend to splash out on new clothes and gifts for each other. Reunion dinners are usually attended by all members of a family.
“In China, they look at feng shui and astrology first, before putting together teams of people and designing spaces,” Ingber says. “There’s still a bit of woowoo-ness to this in the United States, so many companies still don’t talk about using it.”
Cash, known as “lucky money”, is given to children in red envelopes. Firework displays and colourful lion and dragon parades are set up in the streets, or transmitted through the television, for entertainment.
Every street, building, and house is decorated with red. “Red” is the main color for the festival, as it is believed to be an auspicious color. Red lanterns hang in streets; red couplets are pasted on doors; banks and official buildings are decorated with red New Year pictures depicting images of prosperity.
Fish is a must for Chinese New Year as the Chinese word for fish (鱼 yú /yoo/) sounds like the word for surplus (余 yú). Eating fish is believed to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year.
Another traditional Chinese New Year food is Chinese dumplings. Because the shape of Chinese dumplings looks like silver ingot – a kind of ancient Chinese money, Chinese people believe eating dumplings during the New Year festival will bring more money and wealth for the coming year.