The Chinese system for public holidays can be very confusing to the uninitiated. Actually, it can be confusing even to those of us who’ve lived here for quite some time.
Here’s the story: up until a few years ago, China had only three public holidays each year – the three “golden week” holidays: Chinese New Year in January/February, Labor Day on May 1st, and National Day on October 1st. Only 3 days of paid holidays were alloted for each week, but in order to give everyone the benefit of a full 7 day holiday, the weekends were “rearranged” to give 7 days in a row. This created the “working weekend” effect – to make up for the extra days off in the golden week, everyone works a predetermined weekend. The entire country is at work/school on those days.
A few years ago, the holiday schedule was restructured. The Labor Day golden week was reduced to a single day off, and three traditional holidays recognized with a public holiday (plus a day’s holiday for the solar New Year on January 1st). The habit of rearranging weekends to create a longer consecutive holiday period continued, however. Each one day holiday is actually a three day holiday, with a working weekend to make up for the extra time off.
The dates for the 2011 public holidays and working weekends were announced in early December. A lot of the holidays fall around weekends this year, meaning a little less chaos than normal – we just get long weekends. The two golden weeks are the most complicated, as always. Here’s the full list:
Solar New Year: January 1st-3rd
A long weekend with Monday the 3rd off work.
Lunar (Chinese) New Year: February 2nd-8th
Working weekends: the Sunday before (January 30th) and the Saturday after (February 12th)
Saturday January 29th is a regular weekend day, then the craziness begins. Everyone works Sunday-Tuesday (January 30th-31st, February 1st), takes Wednesday to Tuesday off (the 2nd-8th) then works Wednesday-Saturday (9th-12th). Sunday the 13th is a normal weekend day and then everything is back to normal.
Qing Ming (Tomb Sweeping) Festival: April 3rd-5th
Working weekend: Saturday April 2nd
A long work week Monday-Saturday, March 28th-April 2nd; followed by three days off, Sunday April 3rd to Tuesday April 5th. Then it’s back to work (and play) as normal on Wednesday the 6th.
Labor Day: April 30th – May 2nd
A long weekend with Monday May 2nd off work.
Dragon Boat Festival: June 4th-6th
A long weekend with Monday June 6th off work.
Mid-Autumn Festival: September 10th-12th
A long weekend with Monday September 12th off work.
National Day : October 1st-7th
Working weekend: October 8th-9th
The last week of September is business as usual, with the “golden week” starting on Saturday October 1st. Monday-Friday the 3rd-7th are holiday, with work resuming on Saturday the 8th and continuing with 7 straight workdays (the 8th-14th). Normal weekends resume on Saturday the 15th.