I went out to the shops today. The buses are usually crowded, but with only two days to go till the New Year, there were plenty of seats available. The towns are emptying as people travel home for Spring Festival. ( In China, the lunar New Year is known as 春节 chūn jié – Spring Festival.)
Across the Chinese internet, stories abound of Spring Festival homeward bound travel. There’s the motorbike cavalcade of migrant workers, returning to Fujian, the two year old who after hearing his parents were coming home for the New Year went out to welcome them, and walked three kilometres to find them. He was found by police and returned home.
Then there’s the migrant workers in Yunnan, Southern China who didn’t get paid, so didn’t have enough money to buy their train tickets home. Going Home for the New Year is a huge tradition in China so these workers, after being away all year, saving to send money home to their families, decided to walk. Many of the were preparing to walk from Yunnan to Sichuan, some hundreds, and for some, thousands, of kilometres.
On Sina Weibo and other internet sites, Chinese netizens are commenting on the importance of the Spring Festival, the impasse of bureaucrats who have not assisted the unpaid migrant workers, and the poignancy of the two-year old.
It’s a fairly different experience from the lion dances and gongfu performances we equate with Chinese New Year in the west. In China, the Spring Festival is about reuniting with family, no matter what the cost. The whole country is on the move, in what has been called the biggest annual human migration in the world.
Two more nights to go till New Year’s Eve. Let’s hope the Sichuanese workers all get home safely, in time for New Year.
Photo courtesy ofhttp://english.cri.cn/12394/2015/02/11/3961s865848.htm