Chinese Holidays and Festivals
There are two Golden Holiday periods per year in the Chinese calendar:
Chinese New Year/Spring Festival: End of January or early February (depending on themoon cycle)
National Day Holiday: October 1–7
While each of these holiday periods is only three days in duration, it is Chinese practice to work on the weekend prior to the holiday and add two days to the end of the holiday, enabling duration of seven holiday days.
Some International Schools follow this system, while others have three days or adopt the holiday of their home countries. The majority of the Chinese population tend to travel during two periods, so it is wise to book holidays for this period in advance and to also expect a lot of tourists at the most popular destinations in China.
The Spring Festival holiday is when most of the Chinese population spends time with their families. Some businesses such as the fabric market close down for this period for almost one month.
Spring Festival - is the most important of the Chinese Festivals, and is celebrated on the first day of the first moon of the traditional lunar calendar, usually late January or early February. Celebrating the new Chinese New Year also marks the start of the plowing and sowing season. This period is often spent with family—the most important gathering includes a huge family feast on the eve of the New Year. It is also a period of great decoration, with homes, buildings and shops all well decorated with wishes of good luck. It happens to be the noisiest of all holidays, with firecrackers going off regularly every night for the week.
Lantern Festival - is held on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Year and celebrates the end of the Spring Festival and the first full moon of the New Year. Following a long tradition dating back to the Han Dynasty, people celebrate by carrying bright-colored lanterns through the streets and eating glutinous rice balls. The most popular place to see the Lantern Festival in Shanghai is at Yuyuan. Tomb-Sweeping Day (Qing Ming) - Qing Ming in Chinese means “clean and bright”. In Western terms, this holiday is a Chinese Memorial Day. It is a time of sentimental remembrance of those who have passed on, by those who continue. Entire families take the day to clean and manicure their forebears’ resting place.
Dragon Boat Festival (Duan Wu) - Duan Wu (day of Right mid-day) is the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunar year. The story behind this unique celebration dates back more than 2000 years ago centers on a patriotic court official named Qu Yuan. Qu tried to warn the emperor of an increasingly corrupt government but failed. In a last desperate protest, he threw himself into the river and drowned. Later, Qu’s sympathizers jumped into boats beat the water with their oars and made rice dumplings wrapped in reed leaves (Zongzi) and scattered them into the River in the hope that fish would eat them instead of Qu’s body. Today, People eat “Zong Zi” and organize boat race to make the occasion.
Mid-Autumn Festival - is held on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month usually around September each year. Celebrating the full moon people eat moon cakes! Moon cakes are usually a sweet pastry with a variety of fillings available, most commonly including egg yolk and red bean paste. It is also a time where boxed mooncakes are commonly given and received as gifts.