Chinese New Year 2015: When is it, how is it celebrated – and what does the Goat signify?

The interactive map shows routes Chinese people are travelling in real-time

The world’s largest annual human migration is already underway as Chinese people are embarking on long journeys home to celebrate the New Year.

Ahead of the festivity starting on Thursday, 2.8 billion trips are being made across the country – which are being tracked in an impressive real-time heat map that shows where people are leaving and heading to.

The mass exodus of students, migrant labourers, factory workers and office employees setting off on the trip called chun yun, or spring movement, is illustrated by location data collated by Chinese search engine Baidu.

What is Chinese New Year?

It is a festival marking the start of the Chinese new year, which begins on the second new moon after the winter solstice. It is the most important holiday for Chinese people worldwide.

How is it celebrated?

People carry out a through clean of their homes in preparation, as it is considered bad luck to “sweep away good luck” on the first two days of the year.

Paper and lantern decorations are put up. People tend to splash out on new clothes and gifts for each other. Reunion dinners are usually attended by all members of a family.

Cash, known as “lucky money”, is given to children in red envelopes. Firework displays and colourful lion and dragon parades are set up in the streets, or transmitted through the television, for entertainment.

Performers display a dragon dance during a parade in Hong Kong

What does the Year of the Goat mean?

Every year has one of 12 animals assigned to it. Those with birth years 1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003 and 2015 are said to have been born in the year of the Goat.

The Goat is said to prefer peace, is most comfortable at home, and is artistic but resistant to change. Lucky numbers are 3, 4 and 9. It is best matched to Rabbit, Horse or Pig, apparently.