Chinese travel home for the Lunar New Year holiday

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Preparing to depart

The holiday also known as the Spring Festival sees tens of millions of migrant workers who provide the labor in the country's prosperous cities return to their villages and towns to spend time with the families left behind. See gallery

Chinese travelers arrive to board trains at a Beijing train station on Jan. 26 to celebrate the Chinese Lunar New Year on Feb. 10. The Lunar New Year is the most widely celebrated and important festival in China.

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Heavy loads

People prepare to board at Beijing train station on Jan. 26. According to an official with the Ministry of Railways, railway authorities arranged 358 more passenger trains on this Saturday to start handling the estimated 5.2 million daily trips over the next 40-day travel rush period due to the Spring Festival, Xinhua News Agency reported.

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Guarding against smog

Travelers at the Beijing Railway Station wear face masks due to a thick smog that has covered the eastern part of China. The smog has forced airlines to cancel flights and city officials to temporarily shut factories and cut down on the number of government cars, according to NBC News. 

 

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Arriving at Chongqing

Migrant workers arrive at a train station as millions are expected to travel to their hometowns and villages in the countryside to celebrate the holiday.

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A train in Hunan province

A train transporting migrant workers cross a bridge near Huaihua, in Hunan province, on Jan. 28, 2013. Located in the south-central part of the country, the province has a population of 64.4 million people as of the 2000 census.

 

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Catching some sleep

Shi Huaju, center, sleeps while riding the subway in Shanghai, on Jan. 27. As migrant workers across China return to their villages and towns for the holiday, U.S. cities also attract Chinese celebrants. San Francisco hopes to attract around 1,500 Chinese, many of them from Shanghai, for the holiday, according to the California Travel and Tourism Commission

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Decorating for the Year of Snake

The spring festival decorations adorn market and are popular among customers in Yichang, Hubei, China.

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Spring Festival scrolls

Spring Festival scrolls sent to citizens as a gift in Linzhou, Henan, China. The scrolls, hung on either side of the door during the festival, are thought to protect the household from evil and. Cultural adages in the form of couplets, a type of poem, are written vertically on each side, a practice that originated in the Five Dynasties Period, A.D. 907–979.

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Young Calligraphers

Pre-teen calligraphers write Spring Festival scrolls to send as a gift to seniors in Chongqing, China on Saturday. According to the Beijing Travel Committee, the practice of writing adages on the scrolls first originated during the reign of King Meng Chang, who ordered scholar Xin Yinxun to copy some of the king's poetry onto a door charm. Yinxun apparently was not impressed with the king's poetic skills and instead wrote "The New Year is filled with holiday cheer; celebrations proclaiming the coming of Spring."

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Hanging Lunar New year lanterns.

People hang red lanterns in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In Chinese legend, a mythical beast called Nian attacked a village on the first day of the year. The villagers scared away Nian with red lanterns and red scrolls on their windows and doors when they found the beast was afraid of the color red, and Nian never returned.

 

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Year of the Snake

People buy plush toys depicting snakes in Shanghai. According to the Chinese zodiac, this is the Year of the Snake. People born in 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001 and 2013  are characterized by their enjoyment of books, music and  clothes, as well for possessing wisdom.

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Scaring away Nian

Students beat drums outside a shopping mall in Hong Kong on Jan. 30. Villagers use drums, firecrackers and other objects to scare away they mythical beast Nian.

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Passing the time

Migrant workers play cards as they travel on a train near Huaihua, Hunan Province. The rural province has seen many residents travel to coastal cities for work.

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Arriving at the train station

A migrant worker arrives at a train station in Chongqing on Jan. 29. Although the municipality has a population of 28.8 million, most of the population lives in rural areas, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.

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Heading for the train

Passengers head for trains at Bozhou Railway Station on Jan. 28, in Bozhou, China. Bozhou is located in the eastern part of the country along the basins of the Yangtze River.

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Standing guard in Beijing

A paramilitary policeman stands guard as passengers board their trains at the Beijing West Railway Station on Jan. 31.

 

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Crowds in Shanghai

People wait in line at a train station gate in Shanghai Jan. 28.

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Arriving by scooter

Chinese travelers arrive to board trains at a Beijing train station on Jan. 26.

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Decorations in Hong Kong

Chinese New Year decorations at a building in Hong Kong on Jan. 29.

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Waiting for the train

Passengers line up to board a train at Ningbo East Railway Station in Ningbo, China on Jan. 22.Ningbo is found along the country's eastern coastline.