Chinese holidays — or “golden weeks” — have always confused Shanghaiist. The “official” days always seem to be announced at the last minute (like less than two weeks before the actual holiday) even though based on past holidays you can pretty much guesstimate when the golden week will be. Adopting a “when in China” stance, many foreign companies in China wait until the last minute to tell employees what days they will actually have off. The end result is a mad rush of about a billion people to get out of town. Thank God for ticket agents.
But golden weeks aren’t truly weeks. Instead of holidays, they are more like trade-a-days. Often employees must work on the weekends surrounding the week off … so realistically someone could end up working nine or 10 days in a row in order to get seven consecutive days off. Basically, you’re just reshuffling the monthly deck, pasting a couple weekends together, and you end up with maybe a couple more days off than you would have had originally. (Not to mention the fact that these golden weeks are pretty much the only time of year the average Chinese worker can take a vacation — quite a bottleneck.)
Anyway, while the work-a-weekend-to-get-a-weekday-off scenario still appears to be in effect, it seems China is at least giving its workers a little more advance notice, according to this report:
China’s State Council has marked up the holiday schedule for the next two “golden weeks.”
The Golden Week for the May 1 Labor Day holiday will run from May 1 to 7, with May 1, 2 and 3 being the national holidays. People will need to work the previous weekend.
The weeklong holiday for National Day will last from October 1 to 7. The national holidays are October 1 to 3. Vacationers will need to work on the previous Saturday, September 30, and the following Sunday, October 8.
According to the State Council, employers have to pay those who have to work on the official national holidays three times their usual salaries.
Of course, if you are just planning your May holiday now, you may be out of luck. Friends of Shanghaiist have said that tickets to Thailand are pretty much all sold out, save for the really pricey ones. Anyone know a way around this? (Shanghaiist needs to scope out potential wedding locales.)
Photo of the Badaling section of the Great Wall during May Holiday 2004 by Emma Devine.