Chinese Spring Festival and Other Important Public Holidays

Authors: Ji Yuan, Wang Miaomiao

Are you planning your 2018 trips or meetings in China? Those already working with China will know that mid-February is not the ideal time for business meetings as it is the time of China’s biggest annual holiday, the Chinese Spring Festival.

Ji Yuan from our SSRCC Harbin office and Wang Miaomiao from our SSRCC Swiss office present a guide below to the main holidays and a few additional days of interest to help you plan your next visits to China.

Chinese Holiday Calendar for 2018

1. Spring Festival (15 – 21 February 2018)
Dumplings at New Years EveThe Spring Festival, also known as Chinese Lunar New Year, is the most important festival in China to welcome the coming year. The key activity is reunion dinner which gathers one’s whole extended family, and it’s held on Spring Festival Eve. People may visit their family and close friends with wine and food in the first and following days of Spring Festival, which is called “Chuanmen”.

2. Qingming Festival (5 – 7 April 2018)
Qingming Festival is on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar calendar, also known as “Tomb-sweeping Day”. People visit the graves or burial grounds of ancestors and perform worship ritual including burning Joss paper (纸钱) as money for the death to use in the other world.

3. Labour Day (29 April – 1 May 2018)
Labour Day is originally a way of honouring Chinese workers, and now it’s more a joyful holiday to share a relaxing time with family and friends.

4. The Dragon Boat Festival (16 – 18 June 2018)
Dragon Boat FestivalOriginally to commemorate the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan 2500 years ago and highlight the virtue of loyalty, the Duanwu Festival now is widely known as the Dragon Boat Festival because of large scale Dragon Boat competition. It is on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar. People eat Zongzi, which is made by sticky rice with either sweet stuffing (e.g. in the Northern China) or meat stuffing (e.g. in the Southern part). Gifts of Zongzi in various forms are very popular in recent years.

5. The Mid-Autumn Festival (22 – 24 September 2018)
Mid-Autumn Festival is on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month. Responding to the meaning of brightest and roundest full moon in a year, the festival emphasizes the value of union and thanksgiving. Family and friends would come together to celebrate. Other activities include Mid-Autumn lanterns with riddles and having people to guess the answers. Mooncake is the most popular gift during Mid-Autumn festival period. Representing the full moon, mooncake is in round shape with usually sweet stuffing inside.

6. The National Day (Golden week 1 – 7 October 2018)
Travelling season during the Golden Week1 October is the day when the People’s Republic of China was founded. To celebrate the forming of PRC and freedom of Chinese people, people have 7 days off, known as the “Golden Week”. Domestic tourism booms during the long vacation. People in Beijing would go to Tiananmen Square in the early morning for flag-raising ceremony. For every 5 years, the state will organize large-scale parades.

More special dates in China

1. Lantern Festival (2 March 2018)
Considered as the last day of Spring Festival Celebration, Spring Lantern Festival is on the fifteenth day of the first month (the first Full Moon of Lunar Year) in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The celebration includes two parts: having Tangyuan, which is the dessert made from stuffing (ground black sesame or meat) covered by glutinous rice flour at home, and watching lanterns on the street which are mostly red to symbolize good fortune.

2. Women’s Day (8 March 2018)
Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, the day of March 8 has proclaimed as Women’s Day, and allows women for an extra half day holiday. Moreover, work units and some enterprises may hold celebration for Women’s Day. The celebration provides a platform to recognize women’s achievement in the company, which helps promoting the gender equality.

3. Qixi Festival (17 August 2018)
Qixi Festival is the Chinese Valentine’s Day on the 7th day of the 7th month on the Chinese lunar calendar. It originates from a romantic fairy of a couple who is separated by Milky Way and could only meet in Qixi for one day through bridge formed by magpies. Traditionally it is a girl’s festival expecting marriage, yet it is highly commercialized in recent years. It sets up a stage for both boys and girls to celebrate each other’s accompany.

4. Teachers‘ Day (10 September 2018)
Respecting teachers is a key element of China’s tradition, thus Teachers’ Day is with high significance in China since it is first proclaimed in 1985. Students would send cards and flowers to school teachers. Teachers in China could go beyond officially registered teachers and be extended to mentors. Thus, the celebration is widely held on Teachers’ Day not limited to schools and colleges.

5. Double-ninth Festival (17 October 2018)
The Double-ninth Festival is on the ninth day of the ninth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The celebration of the festival could be dated back to East Han dynasty, two thousand years ago. It offers an opportunity for family members to visit and show admire to elders. Traditional activities for the festival include hiking, drinking chrysanthemum liquor, and wearing the zhuyu plant (Cornus officinalis).


Ms Miaomiao Wang
Researcher at FHNW SSRCC in Olten/Switzerland