春运 (Chūnyùn), literally “spring move”, is the biggest annual population migration in the world: 3 billion tickets are sold around the Spring Festival. That’s like the entire population of Europe, Africa, and the Americas combined. It’s not only China - most of East Asia is going home for the holidays, so traffic is bound to get a little bit crazy.
The phrase was popularized by The People’s Daily in 1980. Around this time, freedom of movement was relaxed, and millions of people moved to the cities – and back home for the holidays!
The trains are packed - Chūnyùn is definitely proof of how much Chinese people value home: In pre-broadband times, people had to line up for the whole night to even get standing-room tickets. Even now you need to click “book now” as soon as the sale opens.
But even the hardiest city-dweller can be motivated to bear the crowded journey when mom’s homemade food calls and all your childhood friends are going back too.
All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go... Xinhua