Today China is celebrating its new year, kicking off one of the planet’s great migrations. Also known as Spring Festival or Lunar New Year, the event sees hundreds of millions of people leave their cities in order to visit their families in more rural parts of the country. In fact, practically all of China takes holiday at once, making the new year the biggest human event on earth. This year, the number travelling to welcome the Year of the Dog will be approximately 385 million, marking a 12 percent increase on 2017 according to China News.
Comparing China’s largest annual migration with North America’s is a good way to gauge its sheer size. Thanksgiving 2017 saw 50.9 million travellers negotiate long tailbacks on the interstate and overcrowded airports. Even though Thanksgiving is a major travel event, China’s new year is still seven times bigger, with its massive population making 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.