China will celebrate its new year this Saturday, sparking one of the greatest migrations on the planet.
Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, the event sees hundreds of millions “fleeing” their cities to spend time with family in rural parts of the country. Practically all of China takes a break at once, making the new year the biggest human event on earth. In 2019 the number who welcomed The Year of the Pig was approximately 415 million, according to the Chinese government.
Comparing China’s largest annual migration with North America’s two biggest movements of people is a good way to gauge its sheer size. An estimated 115.6 million Americans were on the move for Christmas and New Year in 2019 while 55.3 million people travelled during the Thanksgiving period. China’s new year is still more than seven times bigger than Thanksgiving, though its massive population makes a big difference of course. Known as “chunyun”, the annual new year migration in China also easily surpasses the world’s biggest pilgrimages in scale with Arba’een and the Hajj not even coming close.
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