The People’s Republic of China is the most populous region in the world, with a population of about 1.3 billion people. The China Calendar has official public holidays as well as traditional holidays and festivals. The Chinese holidays are characterized by the transferred holiday policy which converts the affected holidays into a long vacation. For every holiday that occurs on a weekend, on Saturday or Sunday, the holiday is moved to the next week day, to compensate for the weekend. If it’s a two-day holiday or three-day holiday, then the holiday will be extended by two days and three days respectively during the next week days, to compensate for the weekend.A holiday that falls on a Friday is a three-day holiday by default – meaning that it will start on Friday and end on Sunday. This policy ensures that weekends are preserved as days of rest and cannot be substituted with any holiday that falls on the weekend.
If you are a resident or traveller to China, you will enjoy a series of long holidays in this mainland. The two longest holidays of the year are National Day and Labor Day, which last for seven days continously.The New Year in China lasts three days. These three holidays are the best days to spend and shop around. They are very popular with tourists. The period starting from 23 January 2012 to 9 February 2013 is known as the Year of the Dragon on the Chinese calendar. The following are the official statutory and traditional holidays in China:
New Year: This marks the New Year based on the Western convention or Secular calendar. It is celebrated on 1 January, and it is known as 元旦 in Chinese. The New Year in China is three days long, the best time to shop.
Chinese New Year: Also known as the first day of the first lunar month or Spring Festival, the Chinese New Year is celebrated on the lunar calendar which is also known as the Chinese calendar. The locals call it 春节
Lantern Festival: This is traditional holiday that is based on the lunar calendar, the Chinese calendar. It is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month, also known as 元宵节
Zhonghe Festival: Also known as the second day of the second lunar month or 中和节 ,the Zhonghe festival is celebrated on the lunar calendar, the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival’s theme is a Dragon which raises its head.
International Women’s Day: This is an international holiday that celebrates women and their rights. The holiday is celebrated on 8 March, and it is known as 国际妇女节
Arbor Day: On 12 March, China celebrates Arbor Day, also known as 植树节 This is a day to plant trees, an observance to highlight the importance of trees to human life.
Qingming Festival: Also known as the fifth solar term, this is a Chinese Memorial Day for the dead. Relatives and family visit the tombs of their ancestors to perform some traditional rites. It is also known as “Tomb Sweeping Day” or “Tomb Sweeping Festival”. The holiday usually falls between 4 and 6 April, and it is known as 清明节 in Traditional Chinese.
Labour Day: This is a worldwide holiday observed on 1 May to celebrate the work of unskilled laborers. It is also known as May Day. The Chinese call it 劳动节
Youth Day: This is a holiday commemorating the 1911 Youth movement and revolution started by 5,000 protesting students at Peking University. The protest was against the government of the day that had sold Chinese land to the Japanese in the Versailles treaty, and it was also a demand for the modernization of China and transformation of its society. The May 4 revolution may have led to the formation of China’s Communist Party and the eventual adaption of the Marxist ideology. It is seen as a significant event and turning point in the history of China. This event is known as the May Fourth Movement or 青年节 in Traditional Chinese. The holiday is celebrated on 4 May.
Children’s Day: This is a day for Children. It is celebrated on 1 June, and it is known as 六一儿童节 in Traditional Chinese.
Dragon Boat Festival: The Dragon boat Festival also known as 端午节 in Traditional Chinese is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. Its date depends on the lunar calendar, the traditional Chinese calendar.
CPC Founding Day: On 1 July, the Chinese celebrate the founding of the Communist Party of China. The hammer and sickle is the symbol of the CPC.It is the world’s largest party. The first Congress of the Communist Party was established in July 1921 in the city of Shanghai.The civil war between the Communist Party and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) led to the defeat of KMT which retreated to the island of Taiwan in 1949.CPC Day is known as 建党节 in Traditional Chinese.
China Maritime Day: This holiday is held on 11 July to commemorate the first voyage of Zheng He, the Chinese equivalent of Christopher Columbus.Zheng He lived between 1371 and 1433.He is known to have made several trips and expeditions, travelling by sea to places as far as the Indian, African and South Pacific coasts. He worked for Emperor Zhu Di, a member of the Ming Dynasty who ruled China between 1402 and 1424.Zheng He is remembered as a sea voyager today. The holiday to remember Zheng He is known as 中国航海日 in Chinese.
Army Day: The 1st of August is Army Day, also known as 建军节 in Chinese. It is a day to commemorate the 1927 August Uprising in Nanchang.
Double Seven Festival: This festival also known as 七夕 in Chinese, is the Chinese equivalent of Valentines Day. It is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month. Its date is determined by the traditional Chinese calendar, a lunar calendar that is widely used in Asian countries.
Ghost Festival: This festival is also known as the Spirit Festival, Yu Lan or 中元节 in Chinese. In this festival, the ghosts or spirits of the dead are believed to emerge from their realm and make a visitation to the homes of the living. Traditional rites are performed by Buddhists and Taoists to welcome the spirits and these include leaving valuable items and serving fine food before empty seats where the deceased are believed to be sitting. While the Qingming Festival honors the ancestors from the older generation, the Ghost Festival honors all the deceased including the recently deceased. It is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month. The festival is based on the lunar calendar, a traditional Chinese calendar used by most Asian countries.
Mid-Autumn Festival: This festival has many alternative names such as Moon Festival, Mooncake Festival, Lantern Festival or Zhongqiu Festival. In traditional Chinese, it is known as中秋节 .This is one of the most important festivals on the Chinese calendar. This festival dates back to the Western Zhou Dynasty, about 3000 years ago. It is held on the fifteenth day of the 8th lunar month. People in different regions of China celebrate the festival in different ways. The rituals and customs include drinking tea, baking mooncakes made from lotus beans, burning incense, doing dragon dances, lighting lanterns and dengmi riddles. The festival is part of the Chinese calendar.
National Day: This is a National holiday to mark the founding of the People’s Republic of China at the Tiananmen Square on 1 October 1949.Hong Kong and Macau join mainland China on this day to celebrate the event. The celebrations are usually characterized by fireworks displays, concerts, and decorations of public landmarks. The fireworks are usually organized on a large scale in all cities. In major cities like Beijing, military parades and band marches are done. Everyone is in a joyous mood and large crowds are usually observed. The holiday is known as 国庆节 in Traditional Chinese.
Chongyang Festival: Also known as the “Double Ninth” Festival, this festival is based upon a folktale of a young man called Huan Jing. It is said this young man sought a way to defeat a plague that was killing his townsfolk whenever it appeared from under the waters of the river Ruhe.He climbed mountains and travelled many places in search of a “master” who would show him the secrets of defeating the plague. When the 9th day of the 9th lunar month came, the old Taoist master told him to return to his village and kill the plague. The old man gave Huan jing some cornus leaves and a glass filled with chrysanthemum. When Huan jing returned to the village, he instructed his townsfolk to carry the chrysanthemum solution and cornus leaves with them to a nearby hill. The urgent of plague came out of the water distracted by the scent of chrysanthmum and cornus leaves, and Huan Jing instantly killed the monster with a sword.
It is said this date (9th of September) is an unlucky day, so people will climb mountains, wear cornus leaves and drink chrysanthemum liquor to ward off evil spirits and danger. In Hong Kong, people visit the cemeteries to clean their ancestor’s graves and make offerings of roast pig, chongyang cake or fruits to the spirits before consuming the food. Incense is burned at the cemeteries as part of ancestor worship. The Chongyang festival is known as 重阳节 in Chinese, and its date follows the Chinese calendar based on lunar phases [moon phases].
Christmas Day is not celebrated on the official China Calendar.