Celebrating in China: Holidays and Festivals

Like the people of all prosperous and vibrant cultures, the Chinese celebrate many different kinds of annual festivals, some of which are also observed as official holidays (when most workers are given time off). Some festivals (like七夕节, qī xī ji, The Double Seventh Festival) commemorate a traditional Chinese legend; others were established to mark a more recent international occurrence (like妇女节 fù nǚ jié, Women`s Day). There are also two week-long “Golden Week” (黄金周) holidays: Spring Festival (春节) and Chinese National Day (国庆节).

China Holidays in 2018

Festivals Legal Holidays Date Days Off About
元旦节
(yuán dàn jié)
New Year’s Day
1 day Jan. 1
(Monday)
Dec. 30, 2017 – Jan. 1, 2018 The beginning of the new year based on the Gregorian calendar.
春节
(chūn jié)
Chinese New Year
3 days Feb.16
(Friday)
Feb.15–Feb.21 春节, chūn jié, means Spring Festival. This is the most,important festival in China.
元宵节
(yuánxiāo jié)
Lantern Festival
Mar. 02
(Friday)
The Lantern Festival is held on the 15th day of the new year in the Lunar Calendar, and it indicates the end of Spring Festival. The most important and most common customs include enjoying lanterns, guessing lantern riddles, eating tangyuan (rice dumplings), and watching the lion dances.
妇女节
(fù nǚ jié)
Women`s Day
Half day Mar. 8
(Thursday)
Mar. 8, Afternoon (women only, not
compulsory)
In 1949, coinciding with the founding of modern China, Women’s Day became an official public holiday to celebrate women’s skills and achievements.
清明节
(qīng míng jié)
Qingming Festival
1 day Apr.5
(Tuesday)
Apr. 5–7 Also called Tomb Sweeping Day, this festival is for commemorating the dead. It also marks the beginning of one of the 24 Chinese solar terms.
五一劳动节
(wǔ yī láo dòng jié)
May Day
1 day May.1
(Tuesday)
Apr. 29 – May. 1 China’s celebration of International Labor Day.
端午节
(duān wǔ jié)
Dragon Boat Festival
1 day Jun. 18
(Monday)
Jun. 16–18 A traditional Chinese festival with activities such as racing dragon boats and eating zongzi (sticky rice wrapped in leaves).
七夕节
(qī xī jié)
Chinese Valentine’s
Day
Aug. 17
(Friday)
This festival is also called Double Seventh Night because it falls on the seventh night of the seventh lunar month. It is a traditional folk festival of the Han people, commemorating the time when the legendary Cowherd and the Girl Weaver were supposed to have their annual meeting. The day is not as well-known as many other Chinese festivals, but almost everyone in China, young and old, is very familiar with the story behind it.
鬼节
(Guǐ jié)
Ghost Festival
Aug.25
(Saturday)
It is known as “Ghost Festival” (鬼节, Guǐ jié) on July 15th of the Lunar Calendar; several Asian countries celebrate the annual Ghost Festival, which is also referred to as either “Zhongyuan Festival” (中元节 Zhōng yuán jié) or Yulan Festival (盂兰节, Yú lán jié). The festival finds it origins in Buddhism and Taoism. In some regions, Lunar July 15th is not the only important day. Rather, all of Lunar July, the entire Ghost Month, is important. People not only worship and pray to the ghosts, but also are conscious of not breaking some interesting taboos. To do so would be bad luck.
中秋节
(zhōng qiū jié)
Mid-Autumn Day
1 day Sep.24
(Monday)
The holiday is from Sep. 22 to 24. A day for Chinese family reunions and to celebrate the harvest. Chinese people often eat moon cakes while enjoying the full moon.
国庆节
(guó qìng jié)
National Day
3 days Oct. 1

(Monday)

Oct.1–7 On this day, Chinese people celebrate the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1, 1949. This holiday also marks the start of one of the Golden Weeks (一黄金周)
重阳节
(chóngyáng jié)
Double Ninth Festival
Oct. 17

(Wednesday)

The Double Ninth Festival, also known as Chongyang Festival, which is held on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month. It is also known as the Seniors’ Day. To celebrate the day, people usually clime the mountains (登高), enjoy Chrysanthemum (赏菊), drink chrysanthemum wine (喝菊花酒), insert Zhuyu (插茱萸), eat Chongyang cakes (吃重阳糕), enjoy the autumn (赏秋) and etc.