Prepare Your Business in China for Q1 of 2021: Holidays, vacations and festivals

December 7, 2020
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Facing 2021, we have compiled a brief list of events and holidays in 2021 in China, and answers to some FAQ – on which dates is the Chinese economy at an almost shut-down; how many leave days do Chinese employees get; how does this affect the supply chain management; when should you send greeting cards; when is it recommended to send a gift; and when to launch campaigns.

The Chinese nation celebrates seven official holidays throughout the year. The major ones are the Spring Festival in January – February and China’s National Day in October, which are known as Golden Weeks. Other official holidays are New Year Day, the Tomb Sweeping Day, May Day, Dragon Boat Festival, and Mid-Autumn Festival.

In addition to these holidays, the Chinese people celebrate one-day festivals (e.g. Women’s Day, Youth Day, Children’s Day and Army Day), when the business activity is very partial.

Finally, the Chinese specialize in “e-commerce days” such as the Chinese Bachelor’s Day, which was massively encouraged by the Chinese world trader Alibaba, and became an international online shopping day. Among these holidays are several Valentine’s Days, Men’s Day, Father’s Day Etc. – Almost every reason is good enough for the announcement of a mass shopping day.

Please note that each year the Chinese government publishes official instructions as to how to adjust working days around the holidays. Accordingly, the holiday schedule in China often includes official working days, which take place on Saturdays and Sundays, to compensate for long vacations. At PTL Group we publish a calendar each year for our clients – you are welcome to download the 2021 Calendar here.

Here is a brief overview of the dates in China in Q1, and some recommended actions accordingly:

January 2021

1-3 January – New Year’s Day, Yuándàn: Although most of the Chinese holidays are celebrated according to the local lunar calendar, China also celebrates the New Year on January 1, according to the Gregorian calendar. During this holiday most Chinese go on a three-day vacation.

February 2021

11-17 Feb. Spring Festival, Chūnjié: Also known as the Chinese New Year (CNY), is celebrated in a long festival as a tradition that has been kept for over 4,000 years. This is the most important Chinese holiday that starts on the first day of the first month of the lunar calendar, a date that marks the end of winter in China.

The holiday includes many ceremonies such as giving gifts, cleaning the house, family meals to express prosperity and harmony, and fireworks. One common custom is greetings sending, which are decorated with gold and red colors to express joy and prosperity in Chinese tradition, and usually include good luck, abundance, prosperity, longevity and happiness wishes.

Prior to the holiday, the busiest transportation period on the roads happens, when all Chinese working away (mostly in big cities) return to their hometowns. Yet, due to Covid, this year it can be estimated that family reunions won’t take place in masses as usual.

More importantly, the Chinese people go on a seven-day vacation, one of two Chinese holidays known as “Golden Week”, in which many businesses in China are closed for the holiday and hotel prices soar.

For businessmen working in China, the Chinese New Year is a period of cultural importance. Sending greetings is vital for business relationships not only for not being remembered as not sending a card, but is also part of the system of building and maintaining relationships.

When sending the greeting, it is recommended to translate it into Chinese and to make it personal. Don’t forget to include the traditional blessings: Happy New Year, Year of Luck, Abundance, Prosperity, Longevity and Happiness.

The two weeks before and after the New Year holiday are not recommended for doing business, close deals or sign contracts.

26 Feb. Lantern Festival, Yuánxiāo jié: Is celebrated 15 days after the Spring Festival and closes the festivities. During the holiday, innumerable lanterns in all shapes, sizes and colors (mainly red, of course) are hung around every corner – one of the most impressive scenes you will see in China.

A legend tells of a beautiful crane descending from the Garden of Eden to Earth. The crane, who was the emperor’s favorite animal, was hunted by the locals, and the furious emperor wanted to burn their village down. The emperor’s daughter who heard of it warned the villagers, and they hung red lanterns on each house, lit fires in the streets and shot flares in the air. When the emperor’s emissaries saw the village from afar, they thought it had already been destroyed by a great fire and returned to tell the emperor and thus saved the village.

March 2021

8 Mar. Women’s Day, fù-nǚ jié: Unlike the original goal of the festival, to acknowledge the economic, cultural, social and political achievements of women, in China this day became a “courtship day”, an expression of love for women and a mix of Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

This date is particularly significant for companies that sell products and services for women in China, and they are advised to plan online campaigns and e-commerce promotions. It is also an opportunity for HR managers to pay special attention and appreciation to their women employees.

Read more about HR services in China

Preparing your supply chain for Chinese New Year (CNY)

During Q1 in China, the entire business sector revolves around the New Year. It is amazing each year to see how the whole nation slows down for a holiday break, a unique phenomenon in the international business world.

For companies doing business in China, a logistic plan ahead is crucial. Here are some tips to help you prepare and avoid delays, cancellations (and frustration):

  • Check carefully all stages of production, shipping and handling of your product against the Chinese New Year dates.
  • Increase orders: ordering sufficient inventory for Q1 is highly recommended. By ensuring adequate inventory, any factory closing or a supplier delay will have minimal impact on your supply chain.
  • Pre-order: place production orders by the end of January to ensure shipment before the holiday.
  • Make early flights or shipping reservations. Keep in mind that from late January through mid-February arrival and delivery times of shipments are a bet at best. Even an order confirmation is not always a guarantee.

Immediately after the holiday:

  • Re-check production schedules: workforce fallout during Chinese New Year and delays in getting back to full production may temporarily affect standard production time.
  • Delivery: re-check delivery times, and add 3-4 weeks to your first booking after the holiday.


Good Luck and a Happy New Year!

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