Whether you travel or chill, don't forget to eat a moon cake in Golden Week
We’re about to enjoy eight days off as two of China’s annual holidays — the National Day and the Mid-Autumn Festival — fall at the same time on October 1. But what are these two holidays all about?
The Mid-Autumn Festival is one of China’s most important, and it’s mainly famous for celebrating one thing: the moon. The festival falls every year on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which means the actual date based on the Gregorian calendar changes every year. This year is one of the every five or so when it falls at the same time as the National Day holiday.
Eat a piece of the moon
If there’s one thing you need to remember to do during the festival, it’s to eat a moon cake, but one is probably enough since they can pack more calories than a Big Mac (716 compared with 550). They’re usually sweet and sticky, but also come in the savory variety if that’s what you’re into. Moon cakes are often the most popular gift to offer loved ones during the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Because the moon is round (圆), this festival has come to symbolize togetherness and reunion (团圆), a time when family and friends get together and enjoy a reunion dinner.
The Mid-Autumn Festival is said to have begun some 3,000 years ago as a way to thank the moon for the harvest.
Greetings in Chinese
You can greet people during the festival by saying “中秋快乐” (zhōngqiū kuàilè), which simply means “Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!” If you want to try something a bit more complicated, you could say “祝福中秋佳节快乐，月圆人圆事事圆满” (zhùfú zhōngqiū jiājié kuàilè, yuèyuán rényuán shìshì yuánmǎn), which means “Happy Mid-Autumn Festival! May the round moon bring you a happy family and a fruitful future.”
China’s National Day holiday, otherwise known as Golden Week, brings with it an amazing seven days off. This year’s Golden Week is from October 1 to October 8, thanks to the Mid-Autumn Festival. But don’t forget we have to work on Sunday and on October 10 (Saturday) to make up for it!
What is National Day?
This holiday officially celebrates the creation of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949. This year marks the 71st anniversary and, apart from a week off to travel or chill, many official events take place to mark this important date.
Among them, an important flag raising ceremony will take place at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square at 6am, and the publishing of the National Day Honors’ List will recognize those who have performed extraordinary service for the country. This year’s list will no doubt feature many who worked tirelessly on the front line during the coronavirus epidemic.
Working on the weekend
I’ve said it already, but I better remind you one more time: Tomorrow and October 10 are officially workdays. Don’t forget!
While overseas travel is far from feasible at the moment, most areas of China are open and waiting for visitors over the Golden Week period. Be sure to check first if you’re heading to any areas that are currently restricted due to coronavirus, for example, certain areas in Yunnan Province.
It’s still important to take precautions and not let our guards down, so don’t forget to always wear a face mask while on public transport, try to keep your distance, and avoid, if at all possible, places with large crowds.
Flash the green
As has become customary, a green health QR code is important for travel around China. One problem, however, is that foreign nationals are not always able to access local codes. Don’t fret! Showing your Shanghai QR code is usually enough, and if it’s not, you may just need to fill in a registration form outlining your contact details and intended travel plans.
Some may still be worried by a foreign face and want to know when you arrived in China and so on. You can just tell them: “I’ve been in Shanghai the whole time,” which is “我一直在上海” (wǒ yīzhí zài shànghǎi).
Most importantly, have an enjoyable Golden Week and Mid-Autumn Festival — you deserve it!