by Julia Henningsen
Autumn in China is a time for celebration and includes "Golden Week”, which might confuse you; didn’t we celebrate that earlier in the year? But there is more than one Golden Week. The first Golden Week coincides with the Lunar New Year, which also marks the start of the Chinese lunar calendar. It is the largest and biggest celebration not just in China, but in many other Asian countries. The second Golden Week takes place in October and is unique to China as it falls around the "birthday" of China: October 1st. National Day is a government holiday that commemorates the founding of the People's Republic of China (guóqìng jié, 国庆节or shí yuè yī hào, 十月一号, which means October 1) in 1949. Employees in China enjoy three to four days of paid holiday and with makeup days on the surrounding weekends, many people have seven toeight continuous days of holiday. Nearly all companies, government agencies, and schools shut down.
The mandatory holiday at the start of October in China is also called "Golden Week" (huáng jin zhou, 黄金周). Pre-Covid, people all over the country used this break to travel for sightseeing or to visit family. With so many people on the move, the roads, train stations, and airports were full, traffic was heavy, queues were long and ticket prices were high. This year, until the end of October, tourists in China have been urged to stay close to home and avoid unnecessary trips. If they do travel, they are required to provide negative coronavirus tests before travel and on arrival at their domestic destinations.
The week surrounding National Day offers many opportunities to enjoy the local festivities: concerts, fireworks, and decorations of public places. In Beijing, a flag ceremony takes place every year on the famous Tiananmen Square (Tiān'ānmén Guǎngchǎng, 天安門廣場) and the square is beautifully decorated with flowers and lights. The celebrations begin at sunrise with the playing of the national anthem and the raising of the national flag. There are parades with dragons, stilt walkers, and other figures in many cities as well as gigantic fireworks.
In Shanghai, you can admire the Golden Week decorations, usually a mix of red and gold colors in public places. The week brings many beautiful floral displays at various gardens, like the Sheshan Botanical Gardens. Many public art galleries and museums are open to explore. You might also take the time and plan some SEA activities: the calendar includes day trips, historical walks, crafting activities, art talks and spa treatments!
国庆节快乐! Guóqìng jié kuàilè! Happy National Holiday!
快乐黄金周! Happy Golden Week!
Julia Henningsen is an author and has lived in Shanghai with her husband and two daughters since 2020. She is Communication Chair on the Executive Board of the Shanghai Expatriate Association. As a freelance writer, she recently published the article ”Sleepless in Shanghai – 48 hours without limits”. She also authored the book contribution "China's High-Tech Victory over Covid-19: Opportunities for a New Normal" and co-authored the calendar "The Famous Die Young". She reports on her life on Instagram under juliantoni.