03 February 2011

Chunyun





Chunyun (春運) literally "the springtime pilgrimage", is the annual journey of Chinese people to the village of their birth in celebration of the Lunar New Year. It is somewhat comprable to the Muslim Hajj and is regarded as the largest annual human migration in the world. It is tradition for Chinese families to have a reunion dinner where the entire family comes to their home village for food and celebration. In the old days people did not wander far from home, but as new economic opportunities emerged in the cities, most families have become separated, sometimes by thousands of miles. Think of the Christmas travel season, but on a much larger scale. Within a period of 15 days, over 1.3 billion people travel to and within China. Most of China's transportation infrastructure can barely keep up with the demand. Most Chinese travel home by train, as many cannot afford to fly. Ticket prices can often double or triple during Chunyun, and people will frequently fight over train tickets. Scalping and pocket picking are common among the chaos.


Chunyun is a very important trip, not going is showing disrespect to your family and ancestors. Some people too poor to take the train actually walk over 200 miles to get home. One man, He Puxian even created a song dedicated to the millions of migrant workers who make the journey. He called it "Afraid to go home for the New Year"



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Translation of the lyrics:
The sound of trains outside of the window keeps me awake at night
Looking at the shabby room, another year has passed
Not many days till the Spring Festival
But who can hear the sadness in my heart?
Every time I light up a cigarette at this time
Thinking about home town and mother, as if they are in front my eyes
So want to go home for the New Year, but also afraid to go home for the New Year
It is so tough to make a living away from home
Afraid to go home for the New Year
Not because the distance is too far
Only because I have no money in my pocket
Not going home for the New Year
Not that I don’t want to reunite with family
So many hard years, it is so difficult to find a job

The greetings from the phone make me uneasy
I feel sad listening to my parents’ encouragement
How far am I from the day of success?
But who will share the pressure on my heart
Every time I weep alone
Thinking about already a leftover man or leftover woman
So want to go home for the New Year, but also afraid to go home for the New Year
How many people will finish singing this song?
Afraid to go home for the New Year
Not that I don’t miss my home
Only because income of the ants in the city is so pitiful
Not that I don’t want to reunite with family
Roaming with no money no house and no career
How can I go home to face the loved ones and ancestors?

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