Photos: Asia Prepares to Celebrate the Year of the Snake

The February 9 start of the Lunar New Year in East Asia is fast approaching, and snake-themed decorations are everywhere in honor of this year's titular animal. However, travel during the holiday season is laborious, and festivities are accompanied by long lines, sold-out tickets, crowded trains and stations, and uncomfortable train rides that last days. The spring travel period in China, or chunyun, begins about two weeks before the New Year and is said to comprise the world's largest single human migration.

This year, in addition to the usual travel nightmares, Beijing residents are lugging their baggage full of gifts through dangerous levels of pollution to get to the station. Ideally, by the time they return from relaxing with their relatives, the air will have improved from its currently severe levels of toxicity and opacity to its normal dull gray hue.

Click through the slideshow above to see the preparations underway as people travel home to celebrate.

Asia Society centers will be holding Lunar New Year events in Hong Kong on February 3, San Francisco on February 5, Houston on February 7, and New York on February 9.

About the Author

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Liz Flora is a contributor to Asia Blog. She has a master's degree in East Asian Languages and Cultures from Columbia University.