The National Day of the People’s Republic of China is an annual celebration that takes place on 1st October to commemorate the founding of the PRC. Also known as ‘Golden Week’, it’s China’s second largest national holiday and a time for families to reunite, travel and relax, and here’s what you need to know about it.
1. The holiday is also known as ‘Golden Week’
Chinese National Day holiday, or ‘Golden Week’ as it’s commonly known, is a week-long holiday that takes place from October 1st to 7th each year. It’s a time during which schools, factories and offices close down, and employees can take a break. Owing to the fact the whole nation is on holiday during this time and the temperature is usually pleasant, it’s one of the most popular times to travel. This is what gave the autumn vacation the name ‘Golden Week’, as it’s a ‘golden’ time for travel and tourist revenue. You’ll frequently hear the holiday referred to this in English, or of course its Chinese name 国(guó)庆(qìng)节(jié).
2. The holiday does not fall on the actual date of independence
Though Chinese National Day is officially celebrated on 1st October every year to commemorate the founding of the PRC, this was not the actual date it was founded. Chinese Independence Day was in fact the 21st September 1949, and what took place on October 1st, 1949 was a ceremony to celebrate the government of the new country. Following the ceremony, the government declared October 1st to be the National Day, and it has since been celebrated on this day.
3. It’s a prime time for travel
As one of the country’s two longest national holidays, Golden Week is a prime time for domestic travel. Each year, train stations, airports and roads see a thick stream of people escaping their hometowns to take advantage of the time off work to travel home or visit some of China’s top attractions. Train tickets disappear like hot-cakes, particularly to popular destinations, and airfares/hotel prices increase. Wherever you go during this time, you’re sure to encounter large crowds, long queues and tough competition for top photo spots. Many advise against travel at this time, and though we wouldn’t say it’s an absolute no-go, it’s certainly not for the faint-hearted!
4. You might need to give up your weekend for work
The Golden Week holiday officially lasts for 3 days, but each year the nation enjoys an extra few consecutive days in return for working over one of the surrounding weekends. The holiday schedule is released by the government several months in advance, and it’s a widely recognised practice across China. which requires people to work on one or two surrounding weekend days. This largely depends on what days the official holidays fall on and is mostly observed by those working in public institutions (including schools). Though working a weekend may not be everyones idea of fun, it does create a slightly longer holiday and provide the chance to travel a little further than possible in 3 days!
5. It’s widely celebrated…
National Day is celebrated across the country, though by far the largest celebration can be seen in Beijing. The capital holds a flag-raising ceremony in the iconic Tian’anmen Square, which sees guards march to the national anthem before hundreds of thousands of people from across China. A grand military parade is also held to remember the past and lift the national spirit.
On the evening of the 1st October, a televised National Day evening gala is held. This features showcases, songs and dances with a very patriotic theme running throughout and is definitely worth a watch for anyone interested in Chinese culture!
Nowadays it’s common for Chinese communities across the world to celebrate National Day wherever they have settled. So look, and you’re bound to find something happening near you!