The Chinese Calendar – Holidays, vacations and commercial festivals in China
Facing 2019, we have compiled a brief list of events and holidays in 2019 in China, and answers to some basic questions – on which dates the Chinese economy is at an almost shut-down, how many leave days Chinese employees enjoy, and how this affects your supply chain and the roads and hotels across China. When should you send greeting cards, when it is 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 February Spring Festival and China’s Independence Day in October, both known as the Golden Weeks, and are celebrated for a week (most of which starts before and continues after the official holiday). Other legal holidays are Qingming Festival, May Day, Dragon Boat Festival, Mid-Autumn Day and National Day.
In addition to these holidays, Chinese celebrate one-day festivals (Women’s Day, Youth Day, Children’s Day and Army Day), when 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 Valentine’s Day, Man’s Day, Father’s Day Etc. – almost every cause is good enough for the announcement of a mass shopping party.
Please note that each year the Chinese government publishes official instructions as to how to arrange working days around the holidays, so that people will have seven consecutive days off. 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 file here.
2019 Q1 – Prepare Your Business for Chinese New Year
Here is a brief overview of the dates in China in Q1, and some recommended actions accordingly:
31 Dec -1 Jan. New Year’s Day, Yuándàn: Like most countries, 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 and take advantage of the time for trips, festivities and festivals throughout the country.
4-10 Feb. Spring Festival, Chūnjié: Also known as the Chinese New Year (CNY), is celebrated in a long festival beginning on the Chinese anniversary and ending after 7 days. This is the most important Chinese holiday, and has been celebrated for over 4,000 years 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 of giving gifts, cleaning the house, family meals, to express prosperity and harmony, lots of fireworks and of course greetings sending, usually 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.
In the days before to the holiday, all Chinese working away return home, in what is considered the busiest transportation period on the roads. More important, the Chinese leave for a seven-day vacation starting on New Year, 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, New Year is a period of cultural importance. Sending greetings is vital for business relationship not only for making sure you will not be remembered as not sending, but is also part of the system of building and maintaining relationships.
Chinese translation is advisable, to add a personal rather than a formal manner, and make sure 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. Save yourself the time and headache involved and simply avoid doing important business at this time.
19 Feb. Lantern Festival, Yuánxiāo jié: Is celebrated 15 days after the Spring Festival and closes the festivities. During the holiday, countless lanterns, in many shapes, sizes and colors (mainly red, of course) are hanged around every corner of China – 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 favorite emperor’s 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.
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 market products and services for women in China and should be considered in planning online campaigns and e-commerce promotions.
It is also an opportunity for HR managers to pay attention and appreciation to their women employees.
Preparing your Supply Chain for Chinese New Year (CNY)
The first quarter of the Chinese business sector revolves around New Year. It is amazing each year to see how a whole nation with business-wise slow down for 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 China New Year calendar.
- Increase orders: ordering sufficient inventory for the first quarter is highly recommended. By ensuring adequate inventory, any factory closing or delay back to full production after the holiday will have minimal impact on your supply chain.
- Pre-order: place production orders by the end of January 2019 to ensure shipment before the holiday.
- Make a reservation one week earlier on flight or shipping schedule, especially for exportings from China.
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, as vendors make overbooking to ensure full capacity so each container is completely filled.
Immediately after the holiday:
- Re-check production schedules: workforce fallout during CNY 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!