China looks to shorten May holiday and add traditional holidays

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SHANGHAI, Nov. 9 – The Chinese government released a plan today to shorten the May 1-7 “Golden Week” holiday and establish three new legal holidays.

According to the national legal holiday adjustment research group, the new plan will allocate holidays for Tomb-Sweeping Day, the Dragon-Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. The plan was released on the Internet on Friday in order to solicit public opinion. If all goes well and there is a broad acceptance of the plan it could come into operation in time for the 2008 Spring Festival.

China currently enjoys 10 legal holidays – three days each are given for the May Day, National Day and Spring Festival breaks, and one day for the calendar New Year’s Day. In practice, the weekend before May Day, National Day and the Spring Festival have been designated work days, allowing for the country to turn the 3 day holidays into so-called Golden Weeks – seven consecutive days off that allowing people time to travel home. In an increasingly affluent country where millions of Chinese have migrated to the booming coastal cities, this has meant massive demand on transportation during the holidays.

This has lead an increasingly vocal public to question the continued merits of the “Golden Week” system over the recognition of more traditional Chinese holidays like Tomb-Sweeping Day and the Dragon-Boat Festival.

According to the new plan the total number of legal holidays will increase from 10 days to 11 days. New Year’s Day remains a one-day holiday. The Spring Festival will still be three days, but will begin on the lunar New Year’s Eve, rather than lunar New Year’s Day.

The National Day will also remain a three-day holiday with the big change coming from the shortening of the original three-day May Day holiday to one day so that new one-day holidays could be created for Tomb-Sweeping Day, the Dragon-Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

The tradition of designating weekends on one side of the holidays as two working days still continues, so people enjoy two days off on the working days, making the National Day holiday and the Spring Festival holiday seven consecutive days each. New Year’s Day, Tomb-Sweeping Day, May Day, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival will become holidays of three days each.

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