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What do you do for Labor Day? If you are from the US or Canada, you may associate Labor Day with the end of summer or the beginning of the academic year as it falls on September 1st. Or if you’re from the UK, maybe it’s just a bank holiday. But in many countries around the world, Labor Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, is observed on May 1st. For this reason, the holiday is also called “May Day.” While May Day is not one of the traditional holidays in China, it has some special associations with the seasons. As Jon, ALO7 Teacher Trainer explains, “Labor Day is more like a signal of the beginning of summer in China.” Jason from the Academic Team agrees, adding that it “marks the beginning of hot and humid weather (at least in Shanghai).”

holidays in China- Li River boat cruise
Taking a boat cruise on the Li River in China is a popular holiday activity.
Photo courtesy of Rafael Utza on Pixabay

Labor Day has been an official public holiday in China since its founding in 1949. Like other countries, this day is used to appreciate the hard work people contribute to businesses and the country. When the government introduced Golden Weeks – holidays in China that last an entire week – Labor Day was included on the list along with Spring Festival and National Day. However, since 2008, the May Day holiday has been shortened to three days.

This year, the Chinese government announced the decision to extend the holiday through May 4th, giving most workers an extra day off. Unfortunately, as commonly happens during scheduled public holidays in China, workers will have normal working days on the Sundays before and after May Day to make up for the extended break. But the consecutive four day holiday still gives plenty of time for travel or relaxation. One reason behind this decision was to allow people to enjoy the pleasant spring weather and boost happiness.1

Holidays in China Traffic
Shanghai, China. Photo courtesy of Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

During the extended holiday for Labor Day, China expects travel and shopping to be higher compared to previous years. Ctrip, an online travel agency, reports that travel numbers have risen to 160 million trips since the announcement was made.2 This is higher than other holidays in China, like the recent Qingming Festival. Some Chinese may choose to travel domestically, as admission fees for famous sightseeing destinations are discounted. Road travel may also be higher than usual since the government has declared a special exemption from road tolls. Others may plan to travel abroad, with Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Taiwan being popular destinations.3

During the Labor Day holiday week, tutors who teach English online may notice fewer students attending class. They may be traveling with their families or taking advantage of the time off from school and work. ALO7’s Tutor Management team has announced that some partner schools have decided to postpone classes for May Day. ALO7 tutors should check their schedules. Classes will return to normal the following week.

How will ALO7 staff members spend this holiday in China?

Jason, Academic Team Manager: “My brother and sister will be coming to Shanghai for 6 days so I will play host to them for about a week. It will be a good chance to explore more of the city, but I have a feeling all the touristy places will be congested with crowds.”

Jon, Teacher Trainer: “I am heading to Shenzhen to see some friends…before that several of us [from ALO7 staff] are going to a music festival here in Shanghai.”

Tommy, Academic Team: “I’m going to a festival with some guys.”

Erin, Academic Team: “I actually don’t have any plan for the break except for staying at home and chilling!”

Citations for “Holidays in China- Labor Day (International Workers’ Day)

1“The “May 1st” Labor Day Holiday Arrangement in 2019 Was Adjusted to May 1st to 4th.” 2019年”五一”劳动节放假安排调整为5月1日至4日-新华网. Accessed April 25, 2019.

2陈子琰. “Extended May Day Holiday to See ‘tourism Craze’: Ctrip.” Accessed April 25, 2019.

3 陈子琰. “Online Visa Applications Smooth Travel.” Online Visa Applications Smooth Travel – Accessed April 25, 2019.

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