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Golden Week in Autumn – The Chinese National Day

Autumn is in the air, and what could be a more comfortable time to enjoy China’s most important holiday? 

Today, we’re going to talk about the National Day of the People’s Republic of China (or the Chinese National Day, for short). There are so many interesting things to discover about this holiday, so what are we waiting for?

Let’s dive in!

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1. What is National Day in China?

The Chinese Flag

China’s national day is a 法定假日 (fǎdìng jiàrì), or “public holiday,” commemorating the founding of the new China on October 1, 1949. 

To give you some context, China was engaged in a Civil War that lasted, intermittently, for over two decades (from 1927 to 1949). This war was ultimately the result of a struggle between the Communist Party of China and the Republic of China. It was in 1949 that the CPC gained the upper hand by taking control of mainland China and forcing the ROC into Taiwan. Interestingly, the war never officially ended with a treaty or armistice, leaving room for debate on the status of both parties today.

Despite this ambiguity, the Chinese National Day is a massive celebration in mainland China, with smaller and less elaborate celebrations in Hong Kong and Macau. 

2. Traditions and Celebrations for National Day

In China, National Day celebrations actually last for about a week. This is because it marks the first day of the Golden Week in China, which lasts from October 1 to October 7 (except in 2020, which we’ll talk about later!). 

What is Golden Week in China?

You may be familiar with the term 黄金周 (huángjīn zhōu), or “Golden Week,” already. But for those who don’t know, this is a week-long period of celebration in mainland China that begins on October 1. (There are two other Golden Weeks in China, too, though.)

Because National Day is such a significant holiday for the Chinese, those living in mainland China are given three days off of work and school, which adds up to about seven days when you count the weekends before and after. 

While the Chinese National Day is the most important of these days, you’ll find that all of China is very busy and crowded week-long. Many shops and businesses offer discounts to attract more customers, people travel to visit family or friends, and there are massive celebrations just about everywhere! 

National Day Celebrations

The most important celebrations take place in 天安门广场 (Tiān’ānmén Guǎngchǎng), or “Tiananmen Square,” in Beijing. Tiananmen Square, being located in China’s capital and center of governance, is always very crowded for this holiday, and many large events take place here. In fact, the very first National Day celebration in 1949 took place in the square. Today, many Chinese people gather here for the 升旗仪式 (shēngqí yíshì), or “flag-raising ceremony,” which is a symbol of China’s progress and strength as a country. 

Tiananmen Square also attracts large crowds on National Day for its flowerbeds. Each year, there are new flower decorations based on a unique theme, often having to do with the economy or social development of China.

The Chinese National Day parade is another iconic celebration. People gather from far and wide to watch the 阅兵 (yuèbīng), or “review troops,” perform in a military parade, which is then followed by other common parades put on by the general public. These parades are extra-special on whole-number anniversaries, such as when China celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2009 and 70th anniversary in 2019. 

In China, there’s a well-known exchange between the parade head and its troops for this holiday: “Greetings, comrades!” / “Greetings, director.” / “Comrades, you have worked hard!” / “For the people!”

Popular Chinese National Day foods include traditional treats such as mooncakes, as well as other festive dishes often eaten on holidays. On the night of the National Day, there is a 烟火表演 (yānhuǒ biǎoyǎn), or “fireworks display,” to end the official celebration with a bang and flash of color! 

3. When Major Holidays Collide

Tiananmen Square

Earlier, we mentioned that 2020 will be a special year for the Chinese Golden Week. Why is that?

This year, October 1 is not only China’s National Day, but also the date of the Mid-Autumn Festival. Because both holidays are widely celebrated in China, the Chinese will be given eight days off instead of the usual seven! 

This normally happens one out of every five years.

4. Essential Vocabulary for the Chinese National Day

Chinese Children Enjoying the Chinese National Day Parade

Let’s review some of the Chinese vocabulary from this lesson! 

  • 天安门广场 (Tiān’ānmén Guǎngchǎng) – “Tiananmen Square”
  • 阅兵 (yuèbīng) – “review troops”
  • 中共中央委员会 (Zhōngòng Zhōngyāng Wěiyuánhuì) – “Central Committee of the Communist Party of China”
  • 烟火表演 (yānhuǒ biǎoyǎn) – “fireworks display”
  • 升旗仪式 (shēngqí yíshì) – “flag-raising ceremony”
  • 黄金周 (huángjīn zhōu) – “golden week”
  • 人民英雄纪念碑 (Rénmín Yīngxióng jìniàn Bēi) – “Monument to the People’s Heroes”
  • 国庆节 (Guóqìng Jié) – “National Day”
  • 游行 (yóuxíng) – “parade”
  • 法定假日 (fǎdìng jiàrì) – “public holiday”

Remember that you can find each of these words and phrases along with their pronunciation on our Chinese National Day vocabulary list.

Final Thoughts

What are your thoughts on Chinese National Day? How do celebrations compare to those for your country’s national day? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! 

To learn more about Chinese holidays and culture, see the following articles from

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Happy Chinese learning!

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