During this year's Spring Festival holiday, which lasted from February 4 to 10, Beijing Review reporters traveled across China to experience diversified ways of celebrating in order to present contemporary China.
This issue's cover story series is meant to give readers a better understanding of the Lunar New Year, the most important festival for the Chinese. The combination of tradition and modernity has given the festival new ways of expression. Moreover, this year's Spring Festival also reflected the social and economic changes since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949.
Migration of the labor force has been a major characteristic of Chinese society since the start of reform and opening up in 1978. Every Spring Festival, those working in cities travel to reunite with their families in smaller cities, towns and rural areas, resulting in the largest annual human migration on Earth. The phenomenon called Spring Festival travel rush, or chunyun in Chinese, has become famous around the world.
According to National Development and Reform Commission statistics, nearly 3 billion trips were expected to be made during this year's Spring Festival travel rush between January 21 and March 1, a volume which might have paralyzed any other country's transport system. However, China manages to cope with the huge traffic flow thanks to the advanced transport facilities ushered in by its rapid development over the past decades.
Consumption also experienced a boom during the holiday. Spending on retail and catering services during the Spring Festival period exceeded 1 trillion yuan ($147.6 billion) for the first time, up 8.5 percent year on year, according to the Ministry of Commerce. Cherries from Chile, nuts from the United States and wine from France have become common items for ordinary Chinese households, which demonstrates Chinese people's improved consuming power. It is a result of China's push to pursue high-quality development and expand opening up.
Tourism has become an important way for the Chinese to celebrate the Spring Festival. According to the China Tourism Academy, a Beijing-based research institution, tourists made 415 million trips, bringing in 513.9 billion yuan ($75.84 billion) in tourism revenue between February 4 and 10, an increase of 7.6 percent and 8.2 percent respectively, year on year.
Watching films is also a popular way of entertainment during the Spring Festival. China's box-office revenue hit 5.84 billion yuan ($861 million) during the seven-day holiday, with China's first big-budget sci-fi film The Wandering Earth and its peer Crazy Alien claiming the two top spots in the box office with high takings.