Noteworthy Dates in the Chinese Calendar – May 2021 Edition

May is a joyful time as warm weather hits the capital and we get a 5-day holiday for Labour Day, which also encompasses Youth Day and the seventh solar term. 

Read on to find out more about these special days!

Labour Day 劳动节 – May 1st

Labour Day (also known as May Day), a holiday celebrating the working class, was established by the Chinese government in 1949. During the 1950s and 1960s, Labour Day was considered one of the most important holidays in China. By the 1990s the holiday had morphed into a more laid-back one, and now people celebrate by relaxing, shopping and traveling. It was a Golden Week holiday until 2008 when it was decreased to a one-day holiday.

This year, Labour Day falls on a Saturday, with the following Monday to Wednesday off too (albeit with make-up days on April 25th and May 8th). Tourist sites are set to be packed this year, with an estimated 200 million trips forecast. If you do plan to visit anywhere over the holiday, remember to check whether or not you need to book ahead.

Youth Day 五四青年节 – May 4th

May 4th commemorates the beginning of the May 4th movement in China. On this day in 1919 students in Beijing began protesting against the Chinese government’s response to the Treaty of Versailles, particularly the decision to allow Japan to keep territories in Shandong that had been surrendered by Germany in 1914. After the protest spread to include working people nationwide, causing social and economic disruption, China refused to sign the treaty. The protests are seen as one of the contributing factors to the rise of communism in China.

Youth Day is now celebrated as part of the wider Labour Day holiday, and is time when many students do volunteer activities in their communities.

Lixia 立夏 – May 5th

Lixia is the 7th solar term out of the 24, and marks the beginning of summer. It begins when the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 45°. This holiday isn’t widely celebrated in China, but in some areas south of the Yangtze, people eat Lixia eggs on the first day, as traditionally it was believed that eating eggs in the summer would prevent health problems in children. These are boiled eggs (sometimes salted duck eggs), prepared the day before Lixia. Eggs are usually boiled in tea leaves and should be eaten while hot.

Children also paint eggs and put boiled eggs into colourful woven bags; they play tapping games with them, tapping their egg against another child’s egg until one breaks, the winner being the child with the unbroken egg. 

Are you sure you want to go anywhere during the holidays….?

Looking for more cultural events throughout the rest of 2021? Be sure to check out our full event schedule here.

How will you be spending your May holidays? Let us know in the comments below. We always love hearing your thoughts and insights! 

Photo Credits
– Cao Zichen for

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