Today marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year celebrations, and we at Austin Air would like to wish those celebrating much good fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity! The New Year brings about the start of ‘Chunyun’ – China’s Spring Festival travel season, lasting 40-days and culminating with the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the lunar month. The Spring Festival’s history dates back more than 4,000 years.

The Chinese New Year is an impressive cultural tradition and celebration, as many people travel far distances to reunite with family and spend time with loved ones. Between burgeoning economic opportunities in the coastal urban areas of China and the increasing number of Chinese students studying far away from home, many people will leave their new homes in China’s coastal cities and head into the Chinese mainland, to their laojia, or hometown. The Chinese government now stipulates people have seven days off from work for the Chinese New Year, and the resulting amount of travel is daunting, straining road and rail transportation systems with an estimated 3.62 billion passenger trips throughout the 40-day celebration, a 200 million passenger increase from 2014’s Spring Festival. This makes the Chinese New Year celebrations the largest annual migration on the planet!

The Chinese also have another impressive record under their belts, as they are the hosts of the most widely watched television program in the world. The “Spring Festival Gala” or “New Year’s Gala” is broadcast live on China’s Central Television (CCTV) every Chinese New Year’s Eve. This program had over 800 million viewers for the Chinese New Year in 2014, making the audience for this event larger than all of the Superbowls from the entire 1990s combined.

Depending on the region in China, the exact traditions practiced vary greatly. For example, you’ll find that dumplings are made differently depending upon your location. Either way, The Spring Festival Eve is a time for Chinese families to get together and eat around the same table. In fact, the round dumplings served during the New Year’s celebrations are served in a round bowl, symbolizing the entire family sitting around the table – this is also referred to as “surrounding the hearth”.

Photo Credit: Xinhua
Photo Credit: Xinhua

The festival is not only celebrated by those in China; 320 cities in 118 countries around the world will hold Chinese New Year festivities, most of which have significant Chinese populations. The largest Chinese New Year celebration outside of China is located in San Francisco, which dates back to the gold rush of the 1860s. Even though so many locations around the world will be celebrating this occasion in their own traditional way, you’ll find a few things in common. Red paper decorations and lanterns, which date back to ancient traditions, are extremely common. Fireworks are also common celebratory tools, originally meant to scare away any bad luck or spirits. However, this year, the government in Beijing has requested citizens to limit their use of fireworks due to the poor air quality issues they can cause.

Depending on your specific location for celebrating the Chinese New Year, you may experience different traditions and various foods being served. Whether celebrating in China or in the United States, we at Austin Air wish everyone participating in Chinese New Year festivities great fortune, happiness, wealth and longevity in the New Year!