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What Exactly Is the “Spring Rush” in China And When Does It Happen?

Jan. 25, 2019

HSK 3 quiz

What Exactly Is “春运 (Chūnyùn)?”

Literally translated this word means “Spring movement,” and that’s kind of what it is! The word comes from an abbreviation in Chinese that refers to “春节期间的交通运输 (chūnjié qījiān de jiāotōng yùnshū) the transportation during Spring Festival.”

There is a rush that happens where every means of transportation is flooded with people traveling to and from home in order to celebrate the Chinese New Year with family.

It creates incredible travel congestion around the Lunar New Year in mainland China, generally occurring 15 days before the Spring Festival and 25 days after the festival.

Learn Some Chinese Vocabulary on Spring Festival

Who Exactly Is Traveling?

Well, practically everyone! But especially: 学生 (xuésheng) student,” “农民工 (nóngmín gōng) migrant workers,” and “探亲者 (tànqīn zhě) family visitors.” It is actually known as the largest migration in human history!

So, we know that “春运 (chūnyùn)” means the rush that happens, but it is also used in China to mean the general period of Spring Festival. Why? Well in China, no matter how far away you live from your family, you have to go home for Spring Festival! It’s the start of a new year so spending those very first few moments and days with family is very important and special!

As soon as the Spring Festival arrives, most of people’s “微信朋友圈 (wēi xìn péngyǒu quān) WeChat Moments” is filled with “二维码 (èr wéi mǎ) QR codes” that invite friends to help other friends “抢票 (qiǎng piào) vie for/fight for tickets.”

Unfortunately, even if you do obtain a ticket, then you have to face the crowded stations, the bulky luggage and the tiring journey that lasts for hours or even days. Isn’t it crazy?

So now that we understand exactly what this Spring Rush or migration is, let’s get started learning some phrases in Chinese to express things related to “春运 (chūnyùn).”

Key Learning Points:

1. 春运 (Chūnyùn) Spring Festival travel rush


Chūnyùn qījiān, jiāotōng yālì dà dà zēngjiā le.
During Spring Festival, the traffic pressure has increased a lot.

2. 票贩子 (Piàofànzi) / 黄牛 (Huángniú) Ticket scalper


Wǒ juédìng cóng yíge piàofànzi shǒu lǐ mǎi yì zhāng huángniú piào.
I decided to buy a scalped ticket from a ticket scalper.

Tickets are sold out? Better find a “黄牛党 (Huángniúdǎng)”

3. 火车票 (Huǒchē piào) Train ticket


Qǐng chūshì nǐ de huǒchē piào.
Please show your train ticket.

4. 商务座 (Shāngwù zuò) Business class


Wǒ xiǎng qǔxiāo èrděng zuò, diàohuàn chéng shāngwù zuò.
I want to cancel my economy class ticket and upgrade to business class.

5. 实名购票 (Shí míng gòu piào) ID-based ticket booking system


Èr líng yī líng nián tiělù bùmén kāishǐ tuīxíng shí míng gòu piào zhìdù.
In 2010, the railway department began to implement the ID-based ticket booking system.

6. 改签 (Gǎi qiān) Reschedule a ticket; change train tickets, change reservations


Wǒ kěyǐ gǎi qiān cóng shàng hǎi dào cháng shā de jī piào ma?
Can I reschedule my ticket from Shanghai to Changsha?

7. 退票 (Tuìpiào) Refund a ticket; return train tickets


Qǐngwèn tuìpiào zài jǐ hào chuāngkǒu bànlǐ?
Excuse me , at which window can I have my ticket refunded?

HSK 3 quiz

1. Please choose the best option to complete the dialogue.

Xiǎo Xīn: Lì Li, nǐ mǎi hǎo huíjiā de huǒchē piào le ma?

Lì Li: —————————– .

    Wǒ dǎsuàn huíjiā guònián.
A. 我打算回家过年。

    Hái méi ne, chūnyùn qījiān de piào zhēn de shì tài nán qiǎng la.
B. 还没呢,春运期间的票真的是太难抢啦。

    Qǐng qù sì hào chuāngkǒu bànlǐ tuìpiào.
C. 请去四号窗口办理退票。

See Answer Analysis

Useful Chinese Knowledge on Spring Festival You May Be Curious About:
Video Lesson: 春节 (Chūnjié) Spring Festival
年的故事 (Nián de gùshi) The Story of Beast Nian
Chinese Nursery Rhyme for Kids: 贴福字 (Tiē fú zì) Pasting “Good Luck” Upside Down

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