Chinese Holidays

Chinese holidays and festivals are often inseparable—the most famous being the Chinese New Year, held annually, usually in early February. This is the holiday to end all Chinese National holidays, the festivities often lasting an entire week, revolving around the first day of the lunar calendar. If you are lucky enough to be able to visit the country at this time, it will certainly be a memorable experience - a large portion of the country take the entire week off of work, preferring to spend their time taking to the streets with costumes and fireworks, the two necessary ingredients to any successful party.

Chinese holiday festivals are held on a semi-regular basis throughout the entire year. Every page of the calendar seems to bring on another Chinese National Holiday—beginning in January with the traditional new year celebration. It's not celebrated with the same fervor as the Chinese New year, but it's still pretty good—foreshadowing to the main event in February.

The following month finds both International Women's Day, along with Guanyin's Birthday. While the latter is not one of the officially recognized Chinese holidays, it is still a great time to visit one of the country's many Buddhist temples. The holiday is in recognition of the Goddess of Mercy, and many temple halls are dedicated to her, coming especially alive on the celebration in her name. The birthdays of religious figures continues with Mazu's Birthday in the middle of spring, the actual day resting on the 23rd day of the third moon. This Taoist holiday is celebrated all throughout Southeast Asia, stretching well past China's southern borders.

The Chinese Holiday Festival held for the New Year is not the only holiday that lasts a week in China. There is also International Labor Day, whose celebration begins on the first day in May. National Day, falling much later, on October 1 has also developed into a week long holiday. While it is not nearly the party that falls on the Chinese New Year, and travel is still reasonably possible for these weeks, it is still a fascinating time to see the intricacies of the Chinese culture.

One of the few Chinese national holidays actually recognized by the government often commemorate the Communist party. The birth of the Chinese Communist Party is a holiday in name only—much like Columbus Day or some tertiary American holiday, it's really just an excuse for state run offices to shut down for a day. Taking place on the first day of July, you'll be hard pressed to realize it's one of the nine officially recognized Chinese holidays. There's certainly no fireworks on this day, nor on August 1, the anniversary of the founding of the PLA.

The approach of fall brings out the Chinese Moon festival, and also the birthday of Confucius, observed throughout the country on September 28. All across the country, the holiday is widely celebrated, though nowhere near as excitedly as in Qufu in Shandong, the sage's birthplace. The Confucius Temple is the best place to see this Chinese holiday festival take place, though you won't be the only one with this idea—expect crowds of all kinds to accompany you.

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