The 2016 Chinese New Year (Spring Festival or Chunjie) saw the largest mass migration on the planet, with one-sixth of the world’s population journeying home to celebrate with loved ones. While billions of Chinese families enjoyed the most significant holiday of the year, the BBC tagged along to capture their experiences. Documenting the 2016 CNY in three episodes – Migration, Reunion and Celebration – the BBC presents an up-close and personal look at a festival celebrated by 1.4 billion people.
Starting from the minus 30-degree Harbin in the northeast to witness the gorgeous Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, the documentary Chinese New Year: The Biggest Celebration on Earth introduces CNY traditions in different parts of China as the hosts explore flower farms in Kunming, help serve porridge to migrant workers driving home on motorcycles, try their hands at the dragon dance in Hong Kong and track down the living symbol of the Year of the Monkey in southwest China.
A positive tone runs throughout the documentary, which highlights several of the ‘biggest’ moments of the festival, including the largest wholesale food market in Asia, the massive Kunming International Flora Auction Trading Center and the greatest motorcycle migration in the world.
First shown on February 14, the documentary has touched Chinese netizens, with some claiming it makes them tear up within the first 20 minutes while others say they can’t wait for next year's CNY special. “BBC has done something CCTV should do,” suggested one netizen.
Previous BBC China-wise documentaries brought out the dark side of Chinese society, such as Secrets of China and Are Our Kids Tough Enough? This time, however, Chinese netizens have been surprised to find the CNY documentary overwhelmingly positive.
The documentary, despite its praises, did generate some online ire after two of the hosts proclaimed latiao, a crunchy and spicy snack, to be “the most popular snack in China” – a claim to which many netizens passionately disagreed.
Watch the first episode of the documentary here (VPN on):
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