The Chinese National Day Golden Week, and other holiday-shifting craziness

October 1st is the National Day of the People’s Republic of China.


In the United States and Canada, statuary holidays like this tend to be on Mondays and Fridays, which creates a “long weekend”. The National Day in China, however, is a little different. The whole country do no work for a whole week! Many take vacations, so people call this the “golden week”. As a result, the tourist spots become crammed with people, all the expressways get congested from one end to another, and plane tickets sell out (I don’t know how are the trains doing). Hardly a way to take a relaxing vacation.

在美国和加拿大,这样的法定假日大多都在周一和周五,这样的安排创建了“长周末”。但中国国庆有些不一样。举国上下一周七天全部放假!许多人会去旅游,所以人们称这是“黄金周”。于是,旅游点看到挤满的人山人海,高速公路从一端堵车堵到另一端,而订机票也成了不可能的任务 (我不知道铁路那边怎么样)。完全没有放松的假日。

But the National Day is only a 3-day statuary holiday, so how is it possible that everybody takes a week-long vacation? The keyword here is “transferred holidays”: weekends that are swapped with days in the “golden week”. The State Council publishes a notice every year (like this one for 2014), deciding which rest days are swapped with which working days. Then add another weekend that would fall inside the golden week, and tada! You get a 7-day holiday.

但国庆法定只放三天假,怎么会所有人连休七天呢?这里的关键字是 “调休”:用平常的周末,与黄金周中的工作日对调。国务院每年会发布一份通知,决定哪些休息天与工作日对调。再加上黄金周里本来就有的周末,连休七天的假期就这么产生了!

The drawback is of course, you still need to work these two days transferred out. Before 2014, that means working 7 days in a row. For 2014, the days are shifted from a week before and a week after, so only two weeks of working 6 days in a row.


The same holiday transfer is also applied to the Spring Festival, which is like Christmas in that it’s a traditional time for family gatherings; applied to a country that has as many people as China, this results in even bigger traffic every year. Before 2007 this is also applied to the International Labor Day on May the 1st; after 2007, Labor Day is no longer a 7-day holiday. Instead, three traditional Chinese holidays are now designated as new statuary holidays (Qingming, Dragon Boat, and Mid-Autumn festivals). For 2014, all three fall between Friday and Monday, making these also “long weekends”.

调休不止在国庆,也对春节使用;春节有些像圣诞节,两个都算是传统的合家团聚的节日。对于有中国这样人口众多的国家,其结果就是春运。2007 年之前,在五一国际劳动节也调休 (美国、加拿大的劳动节在九月份)。2007 年之后,五一不再休整周,而将清明、端午和中秋,设成新的法定假日。2014 年,这三个节日都在周五和周一之间,中国也有了自己的 “长周末”。

In the three holidays, the Dragon Boat festival and the Mid-Autumn festival are based on the traditional Chinese calendar, in which every month is 30 days; so the dates on the Gregorian calendar fluctuates each year. (Instead of leap days, the traditional calendar has leap months.) But the Qingming festival is always April 4th or April 5th; this is because it’s observed 15 days after the Spring Equinox, and the Gregorian calendar is designed to track the seasons, and the Spring Equinox in particular very accurately.

这三个假日中,端午和中秋的日期都是根据传统农历的;农历每个月都是30天,于是在格里高利历 (公历) 上的日期每年都有变化。但清明每年都是四月4日或四月5日,原因是清明总是在春分后15天,而格里高利历设计上是准确跟踪季节变化的,特别是每年春分的日期。

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