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Fun facts about Labor Day in China

L
abor Day, also known as International Workers’ Day, falls on May 1 in China and many other countries (but not in the U.S., which celebrates the holiday in September). But it’s not just a celebration of workers’ rights — the festival has an economic aspect, too.
2 months ago
Jia Guo

The Labor Day holiday originated in Europe in 1891 as a day of remembrance and was introduced into China in 1918.

Underground Communist organizations in Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou distributed pamphlets emblazoned with the slogan “Labor is Sacred,” which was said to be the first public recognition of the holiday.

Shortly after the establishment of the PRC in 1949, Labor Day was designated a national holiday.

In 2000, Labor Day became a “Golden Week,” created by the Chinese government to increase demand in the domestic market. People would celebrate it by taking a week off from work to shop and travel.

In 2007, Labor Day was downsized to a three-day holiday to make way for three traditional festivals — Qingming, Dragon Boat, and Mid-Autumn — to become national holidays.

Each year during the Labor Day holiday, millions of Chinese go on road trips, causing traffic jams and overcrowding problems in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai and other popular travel destinations.

This year, more than one-tenth of China’s population was expected to travel over the Labor Day weekend. In addition, the country’s tourism industry saw 79.1 billion yuan ($11.5 billion) in revenue during the holiday.

By Jia Guo
Jia Guo is from the coastal city of Qingdao. She has an M.A. in multimedia journalism from NYU and has worked at Facebook and Bloomberg TV in New York City.
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