Next week it’s going to be a long, 7-day holiday in China – the National Day holiday (国庆节 Guóqìngjié), often referred to as the “Golden Week” (黄金周 Huángjīnzhōu).
There are two weeks like that during the year. In China, most workers only have these Chinese festivals (and a few public holidays) as their time off.
In this article, we are going to have a closer look at the two – and see how you can prepare for them in advance!
1. National Day (国庆节, Guóqìng jié)
2018 Festival date: October 1st
2018 Days off: October 1-7
Duration: 7 days
The People’s Republic of China (PRC) celebrates its anniversary on October 1st. China’s National Day has been celebrated in various ways during the history of the PRC. In China, the holiday is officially three days, but the holidays are usually extended by bridge holidays compensated by working on weekends depending how the holiday falls in the week. This creates a so-called ‘Golden Week’ of holidays. This makes it the second largest Chinese holiday after the Chinese New Year.
The PRC was founded on October 1st, 1949 with a ceremony at Tian’anmen Square. In December 1949, the Chinese Government passed the Resolution declaring October 1st to be the National Day of China. From 1950 to 1959, grand rallies and massive military parades were held to mark the National Day. However in 1960, the celebration was simplified in order to emphasize the principle of hard work and frugality in building the country. From 1960 until 1970, mass rallies were still held in Tian’anmen Square, though military parades were canceled. From 1971 to 1983, visiting parks and other galas replaced mass rallies and military parades.
According to CCTV, the Chinese Tourism Academy estimate that over 600 million Chinese will travel domestically and abroad during National Day week, adding over USD 72 Billion to the global tourism industry.
2. Chinese New Year (春节, Chūnjié)
2019 Festival date: February 5th
2019 Days off: February 4-10th
Duration: 7 days
Each year in the Chinese calendar is represented by one of twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac. According to the Chinese calendar, 2019 will be the year of the Pig – and will officially begin on February 5th. In the Western traditions, by this time in the year, most new year resolutions have been forgotten. However, not all hope is lost, as there’s a second chance to get it right with the Chinese New Year!
The Chinese New Year, or the Spring Festival, is celebrated by almost a sixth of the world’s population. It is also very similar to the Western one, swathed in traditions and rituals. This lengthy celebration takes place over 15 days with family reunions being the most prominent part of the custom. Sending hongbao 红包 (hóngbāo), or “red packets”, is also an integral part of the festival. This involves married couples giving money in red envelopes as a symbol of blessings to children and unmarried adults. Then the family goes around giving greetings from door to door, starting from their relatives and then their neighbors and friends.
During these periods of Chinese holidays, traveling within China by trains, planes, coaches and subways can be very busy and not enjoyable to some. However, if you do intend to use these holiday periods to travel, it’s best to plan and book your holidays as early as you can (we can’t stress this enough!). Otherwise you might find yourself with expensive options or no options at all!
Holiday tip for traveling during the National Holiday:
Always book your October holiday as early as 6 months in advance to get the best deals. Don’t go to popular tourist destinations in China like the Yellow Mountain or all you’ll see is “people mountain people sea” (massive number of people!). Go abroad to further areas like Europe or South East Asia and fly one/two days earlier and come back one/two days after the holiday.
If it’s a little too late for you to plan on a long-distance trip – you can always visit some nearby cities in China, like Suzhou or Hangzhou near Shanghai, or Qingdao near Beijing. Save the efforts for the next Golden Week – and plan that trip in advance!
Holiday tip for traveling during the Chinese New Year:
Go abroad instead of traveling in China. And book your ticket as early as 5 – 6 months in advanced and go one or two days before the Chinese New Year’s eve and come back a few days after the official holiday period has ended.
If you are stuck in China, do not travel by car as you’ll most likely end in traffic jams. Trains will be the most reliable mode of transport, but tickets will usually be sold out fast.
Got more thoughts & tips on traveling during these holidays?
Share them with on on twitter @thatsmandarin. We’ll be happy to hear what you think!