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First Golden Week in China Since COVID-19 Pandemic

Golden Week

In China, a “Golden Week” represents a full seven-day work free holiday. For the past several years, Chinese New Year also known as Spring Festival (based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar beginning in January or February) and the National Day Holiday (around October 1st) have been the main holidays for these weeks. These extended holidays create an opportunity for long distance travel as many in China live far from their ancestral hometowns and use this time to visit family. These holidays have been seen as an economic driver to support the domestic travel and tourism industries.

National Day Holiday

National Day is to commemorate the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1st, 1949. Typically, the official holiday (October 1st) is scheduled with the first or last three or four days of the week along with the weekend before or after the holiday, making seven consecutive days off work. Additionally if Mid-Autumn Festival falls during this time, the Golden Week may be extended to eight days long.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Mid-Autumn Festival (this year also on October 1st based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar) considered by some to be the second grandest festival in China after Chinese New Year is a time of family reunion during the autumn harvest full moon. Families hold a large dinner with many special foods. The most unique food related to the holiday is mooncake. Mooncakes are usually round pastries that include many different varieties of sweet or salty fillings. Moon worship was a significant part of the festival especially in the past with several related stories involving Chang’e, goddess of the moon. There are many other related traditions, with one being lantern making with some writing riddles on their lanterns for others to guess the answers.

This Golden Week

By September 14th, domestic air ticket bookings for the Golden Week had already surpassed the number from last year, according to Qunar, an online booking platform. The holiday brings about a huge flow of people nationwide, last year nearly 800 million visits were made during this week. Thus, many are stressing the importance of increased COVID-19 mitigation during this holiday. Some Chinese universities have already shortened the holiday and encouraged students not to leave campus for nonessential travel to prevent potential epidemic spread. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism has demanded that cultural and tourist sites limit visitor numbers to no more than 75 percent of their maximum receiving capacity. Some Chinese experts have stressed the possibility of a reassurance of COVID-19 cases stating recent reemergence in countries in Europe over the last weeks.

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