China is one of the world’s most important countries and is historically regarded as one of the oldest civilizations dating back to the Qin Dynasty of 221-206 BC. Now China is the most populous and the second-largest country in the world. The country also boasts the second largest GDP in the world solidifying its economic worth.
In addition to China’s economy, it also has a low unemployment rate of nearly 4.1%. With the rise of Western education in China, the need for foreign educators is only increasing. Teaching in China has never been easier in this day and age. If you’re reading this article as an educator, chances are you’re already aware of the numerous opportunities offered to ex-pats in China.
Living in China means being surrounded by Chinese culture, both ancient and modern. China, like every other country in the world, has its own national holidays and festivals that accent the living experience. Here are some of the Chinese holidays that you should know about.
Holidays in China
China has seven legal holidays in a year. The traditional Chinese holidays are scheduled according to the Chinese calendar. The seven holidays in chronological order with their respective details are:
- New Year’s Day
The first Chinese holiday is one that is shared and celebrated with the rest of the world. New Year’s Day, as you may have guessed, is celebrated on the 1st of January of every year. It is not a traditional holiday and should not be confused with the Chinese New Year that is celebrated in China and some other parts of the world.
Schools and public offices are closed for this day and malls and streets are decorated accordingly.
- Chinese New Year
This is the second major public holiday in mainland China. It is also known as the Spring Festival and is based on the Chinese calendar hence there is no fixed date for it. The festival has an origin in Chinese history dating back to 4,000 years ago. It is celebrated in China and some other Asian countries such as Vietnam, and Singapore to name a few.
The festival calls for communal meetings, meeting up with relatives, setting off fireworks, and encouraging goodwill and luck for the remainder of the year. Children are gifted with red envelopes that symbolically represent wealth and luck.
As the biggest holiday of the year, the Spring Festival is always a 7-day long holiday.
- Qingming Festival
The third holiday of the year is the Qingming Festival. It is also called the Tomb-Sweeping Day or the Pure Brightness Festival. It is also a traditionally important festival that highlights the respect Chinese people have for their ancestors.
During the festival, families visit their ancestor’s tombs and as the name suggests, sweep the tombs. They burn imitations of paper money, dubbed as hell money, as a ritual and then dedicate the rest of their day to family outings.
- Labor Day
In China, Labor Day is also known as May Day. This holiday, which is on May 1st, coincides with International Labor Day which is recognized as a public holiday across the globe. It honors workers of all domains and normally lasts for three days. However, these holidays are usually later compensated for.
- Dragon Boat Festival
The fifth holiday is the Dragon Boat Festival. This holiday is celebrated on the fifth month on the fifth date, in the Chinese calendar. In the Gregorian Calendar, the date typically falls in the month of June. The festival’s most famous activity is the dragon boat races.
The festival has a history of over 2,000 years and is the most traditional Chinese festival of them all. The festival originates from the Chinese superstition that the fifth month of the year is one of bad luck, especially on the fifth day. Therefore, the festival was born to keep bad luck away.
Another legend surrounding the festival is that it was born to commemorate the death of Chinese poet and politician, Qu Yuan.
- Mid-Autumn Festival
The sixth public Chinese holiday is the Mid-Autumn Festival which occurs on the 8th month of the lunar calendar. The festival is meant to be China’s harvest celebration.
The festival represents a time of coming together as a family to pray and express gratitude for a good harvest and good fortune.
The festival is mainly known for two activities. People celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival by using Chinese paper lanterns. Participants either fly these lanterns or carry them around. Another activity associated heavily with the festival is eating mooncakes. Mooncakes are bakery items filled with lotus seed paste or red bean paste and are considered to be a delicacy. Families gift and consume these mooncakes together on this day.
- Chinese National Day
The seventh and final holiday is Chinese National Day, which is the celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It is celebrated annually on October 1st.
The Chinese government hosts a variety of activities such as concerts and firework shows. Patriotic decorations are displayed all over the country and a major civil-military parade and a national flag-raising ceremony.
Normally these holidays are a single-day occurrence.
The Spring Festival is nearly always a 7-day long occurrence but in special cases, National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival can also be just as long. This is referred to as the Golden Week, which in simple terms means receiving a full week off. Usually, before the holidays, people may have to work consecutive days to make up for the off-time. One important thing to note is that if these holidays fall on the weekend, the government extends the holiday into the next week.
During the holidays, only schools and public offices are closed. Tourism and businesses thrive immensely and receive a lot of attention. Domestic and international travel at this time is very common. At the end of the day, teaching English in China would allow maximum participation in the festivals as well as well-deserved days off.