Whether you do business in China or are just fond of Chinese culture, getting to know at least the biggest Chinese festivals is essential. Every country has its traditions, and China, with its thousands of years-long history, is not an exception. Each year 1.4 billion people gather to embrace joyous and memorable experiences. At first glance, Chinese holidays can be confusing and hard to comprehend. We present the list of holidays in China 2024 with a simple description of how they are celebrated.
The most important holidays in China in 2024
The majority of the Chinese holidays have different dates each year since they are based on the lunar calendar and not on the Gregorian calendar. Exactly three weeks before the start of the new year, the government in China announces the precise dates of holidays to citizens. While planning a trip or doing business, it is crucial to keep in mind that national holidays are usually non-working days, which may affect your business.
Most Chinese holidays are rooted in the old Chinese tradition. However, Labour Day and Chinese National Day, for instance, were introduced just in the 20th century. The purpose of the first was mainly to stimulate the economy and tourism in the country, whereas the second commemorates the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Both happen annually on the same day (because they follow the Gregorian calendar instead) and are non-working days.
The Chinese New Year (the Spring Festival)
- Date: 10th of February 2024
- Non-working days: 9-15th of February 2024
It is unquestionably the most important holiday for Chinese people. The non-working days officially last seven days, although the actual celebrations include the next 14 days, till the 24th of February – the Lantern Festival. It is, thus, one of the so-called Golden Weekends because of the 7-day long holiday.
During the Chinese New Year, people spend time with their families and loved ones, which is why the migrations in the country are incredibly high before the festival. It is advisable not to travel to China before, during, and after the celebrations take place if you do not want to find yourself on an overcrowded train.
Many traditions accompany the Chinese New Year, like fireworks, giving red envelopes with money, lion or dragon dance shows, and delicious meals, just to name a few.
The Lantern Festival
- Date: 24th of February 2024
The Lantern Festival is not a non-working day in China. This festival marks the end of the celebrations of the Chinese New Year. During this time, Chinese houses are decorated with red lanterns, symboling prosperity. Watching artistic performances and resolving riddles on lanterns are both very popular events on that day.
The Day of the Dead or the Qingming festival
- Date: 4th of April 2024
- Non-working days: 4-5th of April 2024
The Chinese Day of the Dead, called the Qingming Jie, resembles the Mexican El Día de los Muertos but is less colorful. On the 20th of May 2006, the Qingming Jie was classified as a tangible cultural heritage. It is a moment when the Chinese gather around the graves of their ancestors and make offerings by giving food or drinks, such as wine or tea. People also tend to fly kites on this day. Family members clean and decorate the graves with flowers and other decorations.
The Labour Day
- Date: 1st of May 2024
- Non-working days: from the 29th of April till the 1st of May 2024
Labour Day is celebrated in many countries. It is a day that enables people to rest, travel and meet with family. In China, stores offer big sales and great deals, which is why it is a good day to wander around and buy things for cheap.
In the beginning, Labour Day was one of the Golden Weeks because there were seven days off from work, but this has changed, and now in 2024, there are just three non-working days.
The Dragon Boat Festival
- Date: 10th of June 2024
- Non-working days: 10th of June 2024
The Dragon Boat Day occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month in the lunar calendar. The festival commemorates the death of Qu Yuan – a famous poet and patriot considered a national hero in China. The death of Qu Yuan was described in traditional Chinese novels. According to an old legend, he drowned himself. The local people could not find him, so they started throwing rice into the river as food for fish and evil spirits to ensure Qu Yuan’s body was not harmed by them. That is why, during this festival, the traditional food is zongzi – small pieces of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo leaves.
The Mid-Autumn Festival
- Date: 17th of September 2024
- Non-working days: 17-18th of September 2024
The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival, is an important holiday for the Chinese. Most probably, it has been around for 3000 years. Its significance has its roots in the legends of a woman named Chang’E who sacrificed her life to live on the moon. According to the lunar calendar, the holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month. During this time, people in China hold family gatherings and contemplate the dead. During the Mid-Autumn Festival, mooncakes are the main component of the celebration. They are delicious, small cakes, and the round shape symbolizes unity and harmony.
The Chinese National Day
- Date: 1st of October 2024
- Non-working days: 1- 7th of October 2024
The Chinese National Day is the third Golden Week (a 7-day long holiday). This date marks the formation of the People’s Republic of China on the 1st of October 1949. Thus, the Chinese National Day is the most important public holiday. During this Golden Week, Chinese citizens travel long distances to meet their families and explore the country. When it comes to the official celebrations, they include a solemn raising of the flag, a military parade, and a ceremony at the Monument to the People’s Heroes.
Holidays in China 2024 and business matters – what should you remember?
It is essential to remember that the dates of these festivals change every year. Keeping this in mind will not only help to avoid any potential obstacles, but it will also be a green flag for Chinese business partners, showing them you know and respect their culture. It can have a very positive impact on relationships with Chinese contractors. You may fail to reach them during non-working days as offices are shut.
Only the National Festival and Labour Day are not movable festivals, as the dates follow the Gregorian Calendar. It is highly advisable to familiarise yourself with the dates of holidays in China before your travels.