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All set for the greatest human migration in recorded history? As we look forward to the Spring Festival holiday, already exceeding expectations for having sold 148 million train tickets this season, we ought to be certain that we are lining up in long queues on the right days; China’s holidays often take a less-than-instinctual path that lies beyond the bold confines of the weekend as a “day off from work”.
Following an extensive public consultation regarding the onerous nature of working weekends to make up for holiday periods, the government has released the 2014 holiday schedule (red is a holiday, and blue is a workday). Apparently, the public said: “We love working weekends!”
For Chinese New Year/Spring Festival, to ramp up for all that jiaozi eating and firework igniting, Sunday, January 26 is a work day, with January 31 the first day off, until February 6. February 8 will be a make-up workday.
A bit of good news: the Qing Ming/Tomb Sweeping Festival holiday will be celebrated with a day off on April 7, with no make-up. Hooray!
The May 1 holiday will be observed, shockingly, on Thursday, May 1, followed by days off on Friday, May 2 and Saturday, May 3. After all that fun, we’re sure you’ll want to be back at work on Sunday, May 4, so that no productivity is lost.
Another bonus: the Duan Wu/Dragon Boat holiday falls extremely early this year, on June 2, so we’ll be off for the normal weekend of May 31-June 1, and then off Monday, June 2, with no make-up.
After slogging through the summer, Zhong Qiu/Mid-Autumn Festival looks suspiciously like American Labor Day this year. The September 6-7 weekend is off as normal, followed by Monday, September 8 off to gaze (or bark) at the moon, with no need to work the following Saturday.
Gearing up for the week-long October 1 holiday, we will first work Sunday, September 28. The holiday is October 1-7 as normal, followed by a working Saturday on October 11.
When considered carefully, it’s not the working weekends that are themselves so difficult – it’s that having to work the weekend means you can’t just burn one or two vacation days to extend the holiday to the following Monday.
Anyway, read our Talking Travel column every Tuesday to learn more about getting the most out of your holidays.
A version of this article appeared on December 12, 2013 at the Beijinger.com.