Chinese holidays are noted to be unique, attracting attention and interest on an international scale. Holidays play an important key role in Chinese identity because of the celebration of the rich history, culture, and traditions. These holidays follow the Chinese lunar calendar or 农历 (nóng lì), which may be different in the Gregorian or Western calendar. When observed in the Western calendar, the dates of the holidays have the tendency to move or shift from year to year. However, these holidays have an actual specific date set in the Chinese lunar calendar.
The Chinese give priority to celebrating these holidays that are dated back from historical periods to modern socio-political movements. Many tourists set their schedules to visit China on the major holiday events for the festive experience with the locals. Local tourism is always at its peak because of how much the locals and tourists celebrate the holidays. Businesses and public places are always active and bustling which are open to the public.
There are seven public holidays that are celebrated officially in China. It’s well-known for a fact that International New Year’s Day (元旦 Yuán Dàn), Chinese New Year (春节 Chūn Jié), and Labor Day (劳动节 Láo Dòng Jié) are also celebrated by the Chinese, too. Popular ones like the Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋节 Zhōng Qiū Jié) and Dragon Boat Festival (端午节 Duān Wǔ Jié) are well-known globally because these festivals are rooted in historical traditions. There are also unique Chinese holidays that the Chinese celebrate for their importance in the most festive way possible.
1. Tomb Sweeping Day or 清明节 (qīng míng jié)
With the heavy influences of Confucian and Taoist beliefs in China, ancestral respect and worship are heavily practiced by the Chinese. Tomb Sweeping Day is actually a national holiday that symbolizes this important tradition. It is set on the 15th day after Spring Equinox in the Chinese lunar calendar. It is observed usually either on April 4, 5, or 6 in any year. This specific holiday is dedicated to honoring and praying to their ancestors by visiting and cleaning their graves. Flowers and tea are offered, as well as food like qīng tuán (青团), meat, canned goods, and fruits. Burning incense and joss paper is done because they believe that the money will be sent to their ancestors in their afterlife.
2. Children’s Day or 儿童节 (ér tóng jié)
Children’s Day is celebrated every June 1st, which is known to be an international holiday. It’s a holiday that is highly valued in China with its aim to protect children and to recognize the One Child Policy. This holiday is celebrated for kids to spend time with their teachers, friends, and families. Most grandparents and parents take leave at work to celebrate and spoil their children at the mall and amusement parks. Animated movies are also released during this period for parents and children to watch in the theaters. Students participate in their school activities or go on field trips to the park, museum, or zoo. There are fun events held by their schools like games, performances, and film-viewing for the children to enjoy.
3. Chinese Valentine’s Day or 七夕(qī xī)
In China, there are six Valentine’s Day celebrations based on the dates in the Western and Lunar Calendar. It’s commonly known that Valentine’s Day is on February 14 and that is acknowledged by the Chinese. There is also a traditional Chinese Valentine’s Day called Qī Xī (七夕) that falls on the 7th day of the 7th month of the Lunar Calendar. The date varies in the Western calendar as it was celebrated on August 7 in 2019 and August 25 in 2020. Qixi Festival dates back to the Han Dynasty with its legendary astrological folktale about the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl who only meet once a year on the Magpie Bridge under the moon. Qixi Festival is one of the most celebrated holidays in China with booming businesses that launch their special collections, group order discounts, and reservations. It is celebrated like Valentine’s Day where couples go on romantic dates and give each other presents.
4. Teacher’s Day or 教师节 (jiào shī jié)
Celebrating Teacher’s Day has dated back to Han and Jin dynasties where emperors pay tribute to Confucious’ temple on the great philosopher’s birthday. Confucian teachings and ideals are highly valued in Chinese society. Being an educator is considered a prestigious and respected profession in China up until modern times. Teacher’s Day has been an official holiday in China since 1985, commemorating teachers every September 10th. Students and parents honor their teachers with gifts and letters to show their appreciation and respect. School programs, award ceremonies, and educational activities are also held by students for their teachers to enjoy.
5. Golden Week or 黄金周 (huáng jīn zhōu)
Chinese people are well-known to be patriotic to their country with their colorful nationalistic pride. They celebrate the National Day of China for a week starting every October 1 to 7 for the commemoration of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. This period is one of the most celebrated holidays in China with many activities around the country. This week-long national holiday attracts the locals and foreigners which boosts the economy and local tourism. Many locals spend their week to reunite with their families by flocking to famous tourist destinations or going abroad. In 2020, it is reported that over 637 million locals and less than 782 million tourists traveled to China for Golden Week. Based on the estimations of the Chinese government, about 466 billion yuan was earned from locals during the holiday week.