Chinese new year 2015 (4713)

Happy new year

**Chinese new year 2015 –(4713) in numbers **

Out with the year of the horse, in with the sheep / Goat.
A guide to Chinese new year .

The number of days most Chinese workers will get off work during the 40-day lunar new year period, giving them a rare chance to spend time with their families. At midnight on Wednesday, hundreds of millions of people will celebrate the end of the year of the horse and the dawn of the year of the sheep. For much of the week, they will dispense with their regular routines to eat dumplings, light fireworks and watch television.

Passenger trips (slightly fewer than three trips for every Chinese citizen) will turn China’s roads, airports and train stations into congestion hotspots over the 40-day period, according to government predictions. The annual Chunyun, or “spring festival transport”, is the largest human migration in the world. Major cities empty, sleepy villages spring to life, and traffic jams on major roads stretch for miles.

People wait to board trains at Hongqiao station, Shanghai. Photograph: Aly Song/Reuters

The sum Chinese consumers spent on shopping and eating out during the lunar new year period in 2014, about twice as much as Americans spent during last year’s Thanksgiving weekend.

The number of strokes that comprise the character 羊, the forthcoming lunar year’s name. Pronounced yang, the character can mean either sheep or goat.

Coloured sheep form the backdrop for a selfie in Hong Kong. Photograph: Bobby Yip/Reuters

The number of train tickets purchased online every second for a brief period in December before they sold out. While most trips are made by road, travellers will also take 295m train rides and 42m flights. On 19 December alone, China Railway Corporation’s official ticketing website,, sold 5.6m tickets.

Train of thought – a young passenger waits for his train to depart from Harbin station, Heilongjiang province. Photograph: Wang Jianwei/Xinhua Press/Corbis

Animal signs make up the Chinese zodiac. Astrologers posit that babies born under each sign are bestowed with unique personality traits – rat-year babies are cautious, dragon babies resilient, dog babies intelligent, and sheep babies are considered meek.
Nine out of 10

People born in the year of the sheep do not find happiness in their lives, according to Chinese myth, and anecdotal evidence says that many families delay having children until a more auspicious year rolls around. Nationwide statistics, it should be noted, do not bear out the trend.

Called to the baa. Beijing shoppers buy new year decorations. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty

The number of countries, from the US to Rwanda, that will host festivities to mark the new year, according to the Chinese culture ministry.