Major Holidays and National Festivals

Festival Date Detail
The New Year's Day Jan. 1st 1 day holiday
The Spring Festival Normally in Jan or Feb 4 days holiday
The International Womens Day Mar. 8th 1/2 day holiday for women only
The Labour Day May 1st 3 days holiday
The Chinese Youths' Day May 4th 1 day or 1/2 day off for young people
The International Children's Day Jun. 1st 1 day or 1/2 day off for school children
The Birthday of the CCP Jul. 1st CCP members usually celebrated through reunion meetings
The Birthday of the People's Liberation Army Aug. 1st Celebrated by the army
The National Day Oct. 1st 3 days holiday

The following table shows MAJOR public holidays and their dates over ht next few years.
These are periods to avoid if possible. If not ensure you have all accommodation and travel locked in!!

2014 / 2015 / 2016 Major Public Holiday Calendar

Name

Date

Legal Holidays

2014

2015

2016

New Year's Day

Jan. 1

1 day

Jan. 1 - 3

Jan. 1 - 3

Jan. 1 - 3

Spring Festival

subject to 
lunation

3 days

Jan. 31
(Jan. 30 - Feb. 5 off)

Feb. 19
(Feb. 18 - 24 off)

Feb. 8
(Feb. 7 - 13 off)

Qingming

Apr. 4 or 5

1 day

Apr. 5
(Apr. 5 - 7 off)

Apr. 5
(Apr. 4 - 6 off)

Apr. 4
(Apr. 2 - 4 off)

May Day

May 1

1 day

May 1 - 3

May 1 - 3

Apr. 30 - May 2

Dragon Boat

5th of 5th
lunar month

1 day

Jun. 2
(May 31 - Jun. 2 off)

Jun. 20
(Jun. 20 - 22 off)

Jun. 9
(Jun. 9 - 11 off)

Mid-Autumn Day

Aug. 15 of
lunar calendar

1 day

Sep. 8
(Sep. 6 - 8 off)

Sep. 27
(Sep. 26 - 28 off)

Sep. 15
(Sep. 15 - 17 off)

National Day

Oct. 1

3 days
(Oct. 1 - 3)

Oct. 1  - 7

Oct. 1  - 7

Oct. 1  - 7

 

1. Spring Festival, also known as the Chinese New Year throughout the West

 Date: The first day of the year in the lunar calendar. This is usually in late January or early February.
Place: Nationwide
Activities: Fireworks display, visiting and greeting family and friends, Yangge dancing, lion and dragon dancing, temple fairs, and many other celebrations of Chinese folklore. Yangge dancing originated 2,000 years ago as a religious activity to greet the Gods and dispel evil, but is now a recreational activity during the sowing season and on holidays. It is especially popular among the northern Han.

Remarks: The Spring Festival is the most important festival in China. Beginning the first day of the lunar year, the celebration usually lasts for weeks. Before the event, houses are thoroughly cleaned. Everyone gets a haircut and purchases new clothes. People burn incense at home and in the temples to pay respects to ancestors and to ask the Gods for good health, peace, and luck in the coming year. Red lanterns are hung everywhere. Red scrolls with complementary poetic couplets are pasted at every gate, one line on each side of the gate. On New Year's Eve, families have a reunion feast of jiaozi (dumplings) and niangao (a kind of sticky rice cake), and then stay up and talk through the night, talking about the past and the future.

When the clock rings to announce the arrival of the New Year, many households set off fireworks at almost the same time, creating a thunderous roar and clouds of smoke. This ceremonial use of fireworks is meant to send off the old and usher in the new.

Early the next morning and on the following days, everyone wears new clothes. People pay New Year visits to relatives and friends to extend the New Year's greetings. Cities, rural towns, and villages present waist drum displays, Yangge dancing, lion and dragon
dancing, and other folk dances. There are other grand celebrations, such as the Temple Fairs in Beijing. Chinese New Year is celebrated by Chinese throughout the world. Wherever one finds large Chinese communities, one finds large celebrations.

2. Lantern Festival

Date: 15th of the first lunar month
Place: Nationwide
Activities: Lantern expositions, garden parties, fireworks displays, and folk dances

Remarks: During this festival, red lanterns can be seen everywhere. Many types of delicate and splendidly ornamented lanterns are exhibited. Every family eats yuanxiao (a kind of rice ball stuffed with beans, sugar, and other sweets), which is a symbol of family reunion, unity, affection, and happiness.

3. Qingming Festival, also known as the Festival of Pure Brightness

Date: 12th of the 3rd lunar month, usually around April 4th or 5th.
Place: Nationwide
Activities: Cleaning ancestors' graves, holding memorial ceremonies, the making of offerings to pay respects to the dead, a spring family outing, and flying kites. Offerings to the dead, which include the burning of ceremonial paper money, are both to honour ancestors and to pray for a year of good luck.

Remarks: It is said that this festival was set up to memorialise Jie Zitui, a man of noted loyalty during the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 B.C.). He helped his lord when his lord's crown and power were in jeopardy. When his lord's power was restored, Mr. Jie refused to accept a position his lord offered to him. He escaped with his mother to a mountain. His lord set a fire to try to force him out, and then force him to accept the position. Mr. Jie died in the fire. To commemorate Mr. Jie, his lord set aside the day he died as the original Qingming Festival.


4. Dragon Boat Festival

Date: 5th day of the 5th lunar month
Place: Nationwide
Activities: Dragon Boat races and eating of tzungtzu (pyramid-shaped rice wrapped in reed or bamboo leaves).

Remarks: The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival has the longest history of any of the festivals celebrated in China. Dragon boat races are held to the sounds of thunderous drumbeats. Racing teams row vigorously, sprinting forward to reach the finish line.

In Chinese tradition, the dragon boats attempt to rescue the patriotic poet, Chu Yuan. Chu Yuan drowned himself because his king would not take his advice. As a result, his kingdom was conquered. Chu Yuan drowned himself on the fifth day of the fifth month in 277 B.C. To save his body, people fed the fish cooked rice. They rowed boats and threw bamboo leaved filled with cooked rice into the water. Later, the custom of eating tzungtzu and rice dumplings became part of the festival.

5. Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival

 Date: 15th day of the 8th lunar month.
Place: Nationwide
Activities: Dragon boat racing, enjoying the moonlight, and eating moon cakes

Remarks: People eat moon cakes under the moonlight with family members. Moon cakes are pastries filled with gooey sesame, red bean, and walnut meats.

This festival originated in a fairy tale. A hero named Hou Yi saved his people by shooting down the other nine suns that burned his people to death. He was then bestowed with the elixir of immortality by the Queen Mother of the West. He did not want to consume the elixir and leave his beautiful but very mortal wife, Chang Er, so he gave the elixir to his wife for safekeeping. Unfortunately, Hou Yi's disloyal apprentice forced Chang Er to swallow the elixir. She then became a supernatural being. She flew to the moon, and from there watched her husband. Knowing that his wife had now been separated from him, Hou Yi was crazed with grief. Looking up at the moon one night, he saw a figure like his wife. He hurriedly took cakes and succade (preserves in sugar, whether fruits, vegetables, or confections) as offerings to his wife. Upon hearing this, people developed the custom of watching the moon and eating moon cakes annually on this day.

There are other traditional festivals that have waned in recent years. The Double Seventh Day is China's traditional Valentine's Day. It is the day when a cowherd and his wife, a weaving maid and daughter of the Jade Emperor, met in the heaven on the Magpie Bridge. The Double Ninth Day used to be the day when people climbed into the high mountains, and there missed their families.