Seeing Red

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Did you celebrate the Chinese (Lunar) New Year last week?  Well, you can be sure all 1.4B people here in China did.  In fact, this holiday (aka “Spring Festival”) is China’s biggest and most important holiday of the year and dominates the local culture for at least 1 entire month…something like Christmas and New Year’s holidays on steroids!

Spring Festival represents the world’s largest migration, with more than 3 Billion passenger trips occurring over a period of about 1 month.  These are not quick trips across town for a big dinner with the relatives.  These trips are all about “pack-your-bags” and get ready for a long bus, train, plane, and/or car ride.  Imagine a number of passengers greater than the entire US population traveling at roughly the same time!

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Kunming Railway Station – Spring Festival 2015

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Local Walmart – selling Chinese New Year decorations

The preparation for celebrations is also pervasive, including plenty of shopping options ranging from big box stores (i.e., Walmart), to small dedicated sidewalk shops that open just for selling seasonal decorations.  We missed the actual festivities on February 19, since we were on our own holiday in Thailand, but just being in China during the ramp-up to the holiday was a real eye-opener into the major role this holiday plays in local culture (and the economy).

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Local street vendor – selling Spring Festival decorations

I’ll save the fireworks part of this story for another time…!

Related PBS article with some great pics:

PBS Chinese New Year Article

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/photos-billions-move-china-celebrates-year-sheep/ 

Copyright © Kevin Beaty, YUNEV and “Feet on the Ground…”, 2015.  All rights reserved.

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