This weekend the Chinese will begin celebrating their New Year, which in 2017 is the Year of the Rooster. Also known as the Spring Festival, it’s China’s most important and widely celebrated holiday, as well as the longest. Starting at the second new moon after the winter solstice, it ends at the full moon 15 days later.
During this time much of the country is on vacation, which is important to note if you’re a foreigner doing business in China. Other than the most essential workers (medical personnel, for instance) people generally have at least a week off from work and students have a month’s leave from school.
It’s also important to note that many Chinese spend this time traveling, to see family and friends at a distance or to visit another country. And as China has the world’s largest population (1.4 billion), this means a significant amount of travel for the nation as a whole. In fact, the Chinese New Year is the world’s largest annual human migration.
What this all essentially amounts to a nationwide shutdown of business and significant travel delays. Not only are people in vacation mode, but getting anywhere can be extremely difficult as roads and public transit are clogged with travelers. (That said, travel slows down considerably on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, when many people stay home.)
This year is expected to be especially busy according to the ForwardKeys website, which predicts future travel trends by analyzing 16 million travel bookings per day. The number of Chinese international airline travelers is expected to jump by nearly 10 percent over last year, with the greatest number of departures projected for January 26.
Foreigners who are in China on business during the New Year may find that they, too, would like to celebrate. If so, there are many ways to do this! For details, check out these traveler’s guides from the gbtimes and Urban Adventures.