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International Labor Day: China’s Travel Holiday

On International Labor Day, China is known for its large number of travelers and tourists, massive sales, and other fun events. In this article, you’ll learn more about the Labor Day holiday, what to expect in China during this time, and some useful vocabulary!

Let’s get started.

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1. What is Labor Day?

You’re most likely familiar with International Labor Day. This is a special 假日 (jiàrì), or “holiday,” weekend during which workers and employees are allowed to take a 假期 (jiàqī), or “vacation,” from work. But how did it get started?

Labor Day History

Labor Day got its start in the United States in 1882. There’s some debate as to who came up with the idea, but in 1894, then-President of the U.S., Grover Cleveland, made it a national holiday.

It wasn’t until 1919 that people in China started celebrating Labor Day, and it didn’t become a national holiday here until 1949. When this holiday began in China, it was simply a day to honor and show appreciation for workers; over time, Labor Day has become more associated with time off work and fun activities.

5-1 Golden Week

For a while, the Labor Day celebration in China lasted for an entire week. The Chinese labeled it “5-1 Golden Week,” and this long holiday became a time of mass 旅游 (lǚyóu), or “travel.”

Unfortunately, in 2008, the Chinese government decided to transform this holiday into only a one-day celebration. This is because they added a few more holidays to the Chinese calendar:

Of course, depending on what day of the week Labor Day actually takes place, people may be able to take a full weekend off.

2. When is Labor Day in China?

A Man Riding His Bike in a Field with His Dog

Each year, Labor Day takes place on May 1. This is when most countries celebrate the holiday, with the exception of the United States, which celebrates on the first Monday of September for a full Labor Day weekend.

3. Labor Day Traditions & Celebrations

On Labor Day, Chinese workers and employees have the day off as the majority of businesses are closed. As mentioned earlier, during the Labor Day holiday, China is abuzz with travel as people enjoy a rest from their 劳动者 (láodòngzhě), or “labor.” This is one of the heaviest traveling times in the country, with hundreds of millions of tourists across the country!

Other Labor Day events include shopping and going out with family or friends. This is a great time to take advantage of a massive 打折 (dǎzhé), or “sale,” because many shops and restaurants see this as an opportunity to boost sales.

Those exploring the streets of China during Labor Day are likely to hear people playing music and see an array of lovely flower decorations. Also be prepared for crowds and the hustle-and-bustle that comes with them. Many people choose to stay at home (or close to home) in order to avoid the craziness of holiday travel!

4. Japanese Golden Week

Did you know that Japan was the only other Asian country with a 5-1 Golden Week?

Unlike China, the 5-1 Golden Week still exists in Japan. This is a period of time from late April to early March when a number of holidays take place, including Labor Day.

5. Must-Know Vocabulary for Labor Day in China

A Couple Going on Vacation Together

Ready to review some of the vocabulary words from this article? Here’s a list of the most important words and phrases for Labor Day!

  • 员工 (yuángōng) — “employee” [n.]
  • 打折 (dǎzhé) — “sale” [n.]
  • 周末 (zhōumò) — “weekend” [n.]
  • 假期 (jiàqī) — “vacation” [n.]
  • 旅游 (lǚyóu) — “travel” [n.]
  • 工人 (gōng rén) — “worker” [n.]
  • 工作 (gōngzuò) — “job” [n.]
  • 劳动节 (Láodòng jié) — “Labor Day” [n.]
  • 职业 (zhíyè) — “career” [n.]
  • 劳动者 (láodòngzhě) — “labor” [n.]
  • 工会 (gōnghuì) — “union” [n.]
  • 工作 (gōngzuò) — “work” [n.]
  • 权利 (quánlì) — “right” [n.]
  • 假日 (jiàrì) — “holiday” [n.]
  • 野餐 (yěcān) — “picnic” [n.]

To hear the pronunciation of each word, and to read them alongside relevant images, be sure to check out our Chinese Labor Day vocabulary list!

6. Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed learning about Labor Day in China with us, and that you took away some valuable information.

Do you celebrate Labor Day in your country? If so, how? We look forward to hearing from you!

If you’re curious about Chinese culture or the language, ChineseClass101.com has tons of fun and informative lessons on a variety of topics. Free vocabulary lists, grammar lessons, and insightful blog posts like this one are just the beginning of what we have to offer the aspiring (or returning) Chinese learner. Create your free lifetime account today, and start learning with us.

Happy Labor Day! 🙂

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