Chinese Holidays And Their Impact| 4 min read

Conducting business with a country on the other side of the world can be difficult because of the different time zones and customs. In some parts of the world, holidays shut down one country, while another country is still running at full speed. Knowing the customs and the effect of celebrations in China will help in knowing the best times for conducting business there.

There are two main types of holidays in China: Official and Traditional Holidays. Explanations of these can be found in detail in this article. There are some aspects of Chinese culture that set their holidays apart and others that put them almost parallel to celebrations elsewhere in the world.

One component of the Chinese culture is that prior to taking a holiday, such as the Chinese New Year, employees are generally required to come into work on Saturday and sometimes Sunday, to make up for some of the time off. In many other parts of the world, this is strange and can come as a huge surprise to those new to the Chinese working world.

Teachers at international schools will sometimes work a few days into the holiday. China obligates teachers to be “in the school building” for a certain amount of days a year, with or without students, which can only be obtained by working even when students are not in school. Despite these extra days of work, people in China never fail to have a joyous and loud time during the days off. With the copious amounts of fireworks on the most common holidays, many other country’s celebrations are put to shame.

There are a few holidays that either shut China down or slow the cities down to a near stand still. The Chinese New Year Festival, coming during the ten-day interval between January and February, is the holiday that affects China the most. Throughout the second half of January fireworks can be heard at all times of the day, and on the evening of new years, they can be heard continually for hours.

During this holiday, workers get the most time off of work: about a week, give or take a few days. Throughout this week fewer and fewer businesses are open until the once busy streets resemble a ghost town. It can be expected that doing any business while this celebration is underway is not likely, thus it is advised to avoid the end of January and beginning of February.

Similar to the New Year Festival, during Zhong Qiu Jie (中秋节) – the Mid-Autumn Festival, big cities, like Beijing and Shanghai slow down considerably. Very few people work, but China does not stop completely. It reflects the way many Western countries look during Thanksgiving. If business matters spill over into the holiday time, it is more likely that someone will be able to see it through during the Mid-Autumn Festival than during New Years, but if you don’t make appointments in advance, no one will be in the office.

Chinese Holidays


English Name  Chinese Name Modern Approximate  Lunar Date
Chinese New Year Eve  大年夜 End of January Last day of lunar year
Chinese New Year (Spring Festival)   新年 End of January into beginning of February 1st day of 1st lunar month
Lantern Festival  元宵节 Beginning of February 15th day of 1st lunar month
Zhonghe Festival (Blue Dragon Festival)  中和节 End of February 2nd day of 2nd lunar month
Shangsi Festival  上巳节 End of March 3rd day of 3rd lunar month
Qingming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Festival) 清明节 Beginning of April (around the 5th) At the Qingming solar term, solar longitude of 15°, 104 days after winter solstice
Duanwu Festival (Dragon Boat Festival) 端午节 End of June 5th day of 5th lunar month
Qixi Festival (The Night of Sevens, Magpie Festival) 七夕 Around August 23rd 7th day of 7th lunar month
Ghost Festival 中元节 Last week of August 15th day of 7th lunar month
Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon Festival) 中秋节 Last week of September 15th day of 8th lunar month
Double Ninth Festival(Chongyang Festival) 重阳节 End of October 9th day of 9th lunar month
Spirit Festival / Water Lantern Festival 下元节 End of November 15th day of the 10th lunar month
Dongzhi Festival (Winter Solstice Festival) 冬至 Mid-December 21st or 22nd of December
Laba Festival 臘八節 Last week of November 8th day of 12th lunar month

Rachel Yoon

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