As the name suggests, the Lunar New Year is an annual celebration that is observed depending on the phases of the moon. Celebrated mostly by people from East Asian countries such as China, Vietnam, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, this festival prompts the largest annual human migration as billions of people return to their hometowns for reunions with their families. In China alone, 3 billion travelers are expected to use various modes of transportation over the holiday. According to China Daily, the vast majority of 2.43 billion are expected to travel by road while 440 million by train. Another 79 million people are expected to travel by air, and 45 million by water.
The Lunar New Year celebrations in the different countries vary slightly in their execution but are all dominated by themes of hope and renewal. Although more modern trends are becoming popular these days, millennia-old traditions to celebrate the holiday are still held dear by their practitioners. For example, families will gather for reunion dinners held at the house of the most senior family member a night before the beginning of the celebration. Firecrackers will also be light up to chase off the mythical beast, Nian to welcome the new year.
Additionally, ‘hong bao’s, which are red envelopes containing money will be exchanged among those who celebrate the occasion. The color red is closely associated with the Lunar New Year and is primarily used in clothing and decoration to symbolize luck and prosperity. Despite all the hassle related to traveling home, celebrants considered it to be worth to meet and celebrate with close family and friends – which explains the constant trend of the world’s largest annual migration.