Chinese holidays you should know
Anyone who does business with China should know when the most important Chinese holidays are in order to show respect for Chinese business partners. It also provides an opportunity to send greetings or gifts to surprise positively.
We have summarized the most important Chinese holidays:
Even if Chinese orientate themselves to the Western calendar in everyday life the most traditional holidays are still based on the old lunar calendar. The New Year’s Day on 01.01. therefore, plays a quiet subordinate role for Chinese people, even though this day is considered a public holiday. The day before New Year is used by most Chinese as a cleaning day, when houses are thoroughly cleaned. In China, dirt and dust is associated with the “old”. Therefore, cleaning the houses and sweeping the dust means saying goodbye to the past to make room for the new.
Chinese New Year or Spring Festival
The Chinese New Year represents the actual beginning of the year for the Chinese. Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, falls on the first day of the first month in the Chinese calendar (usually the end of January or beginning of February) and is the most important traditional holiday in China. In the past, it was a tradition that the festival lasted one month. However, as China has now become an industrialized country and it is not possible to celebrate for a whole month, the festival nowadays lasts only 7 days. That is why this is also called “golden week”.
The most important reasons to celebrate the New Year are on the one hand to celebrate the past year full of hard work and on the other hand to come together as a whole family and hope for another successful and happy year. The “reunion dinner” on the day before the New Year’s celebration is considered as the highlight of the festivities. Large families with several generations sit together at the table and enjoy the time together. Also, it is a tradition to make each other presents when the whole family comes together.
Furthermore, it is common among the Chinese that the years are always dedicated to an animal. The year 2020 is the year of the rat, 2021 will be the year of the buffalo. Therefore, it is tradition to decorate the houses and streets with the respective animals of the year. The main color of decoration is red, as this color is considered to be particularly promising.
Qingming Feast or Memorial Day
The Qingming festival takes place every year on the 4th or 5th of April and is also called the Memorial Day of the Dead. As the name suggests, this day is mainly used to commemorate the deceased. It is customary on this day to visit the graves of the deceased and to place things on their graves, such as fruit, food and drink or other items that they liked during their lifetime. In addition, the general grave care in honor of the deceased has tradition, which is why this day is also called the grave cleaning day. Furthermore, many Chinese only eat cold food on this day.
Besides the mourning during the grave visit, the Qingming festival has also a cheerful meaning: Every year the festival takes place in spring when the weather is already warmer and many trees and plants start to blossom. The families thus go on a spring excursion (also called Taqing) and take pleasure in the joy of spring.
Thus, the Qingming festival is a day of mourning and joy at the same time.
Like in Germany and many other countries, China also celebrates the Labor Day on the 1st of May. Every employee in China is granted a day off on this holiday. Since 1949, when the People’s Republic of China was founded, the day has been celebrated. Unlike most other Chinese holidays, however, Labor Day is not based on the Chinese lunar calendar.
Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, is a great folk festival full of tradition. It always takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month (around June) of the Chinese lunar calendar and lasts 3 days. The fact that the holiday has a lot of tradition and culture is shown by the fact that the festival is now on the list of intangible world cultural heritage of UNESCO.
Many Chinese use the three free days for travelling. That’s why most of the attractions and sights are very crowded during the Dragon Boat Festival and traveling during this time is often more difficult and expensive than usual.
The historical origin of the festival is not quite clear. Legends say that the festival goes back to the attempted rescue of the poet Qu Yuan, who is said to have drowned himself in the Miluo-Yuang River. Afterwards fishermen went out on the river in dragon boats to search in vain for the drowned man. The very colorful and lively festival is meant to commemorate this event.
After the Chinese New Year, the Moon Festival (or Mid-Autumn Festival) is the most important holiday for the Chinese. The Chinese people worship the moon very much, which is due to a long tradition. Because of this, the moon is always celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month based on the lunar calendar. According to the western calendar, the festival always takes place around September. The holidays last for three days. For many Chinese, the mooncake is an absolute must-have at the Moon Festival and the most important tradition during the holidays. The round shape of the cake symbolizes cohesion and happiness. But recently the tradition has changed here as well. There are many Chinese who do not like the mooncake and instead have different ideas about what belongs on the table during the Moon Festival.
For entrepreneurs from other countries, the Moon Festival in particular has emerged in recent years as a good opportunity for Chinese business partners to bring themselves positively to mind with beautifully wrapped moon cakes or similar gifts.
Similar to the Dragon Boat Festival, the three holidays during the Moon Festival have become a popular travel season for many Chinese. Therefore, also at this time an increased number of tourists can be expected at many attractions and sights.
National Day of the People’s Republic of China
The National Day takes place in China every year on October 1st and is meant to commemorate the foundation of the People’s Republic of China on the 1st of October in 1949. Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China, ended China’s status as a “semi-colony” and led the country back to independence and sovereignty. On the occasion of the holidays, Chinese people not only have free time on October 1, but for the whole week. That is the reason why this week is also called “golden week”, same as the first week of the Chinese New Year.
Many Chinese visit the Chinese capital Beijing on National Day, where a flag ceremony is held every year on the “Tiananmen Square”. Already at sunrise the celebrations begin with the playing of the national anthem. In many cities there are large parades with traditional Chinese symbols like dragons or stilts. Finally, in the evening, the fireworks cannot be missed, which usually last for several hours.
Additional information on Wikipedia: Public holidays in China