As the New Year parties are winding down in Japan, China is getting ready for its New Year celebrations next week. China still uses the lunar calendar for many of its customs and events. The New Year according to the lunar calendar is celebrated throughout China and is a national holiday.

Partly due to the expanse of the county, China is well-known for having seven days for its New Year’s holiday. A main reason for this is that it can take more than two days for somebody to travel from where they work and live to their family home in another province of the country.

However, while it is often said that the Chinese enjoy a seven-day vacation period for the New Year, the truth is that there are only three national holiday days. In fact, what happens is that the Central Government (Beijing) announces the annual calendar and this is then adopted as standard by a majority of companies across the country.

According to this calendar, either the weekend before or after the lunar calendar’s 1st of January is set as working days, and these two days are converted to two vacation days to be used consecutively to the three national holiday days. Adding this to the weekend gives you the seven-day holiday that is often spoken about. This year, it is the weekend after the New Year (20th and 21st of February) that has been designated as working days, making the seven-day holiday from the 13th to 19th of February.

I haven’t heard of any other country specifying that its citizens work on a weekend and take weekdays off instead, but this is common practice in China. It’s not better or worse, just different.

Since my Chinese company’s clients are mainly companies in Japan and Japanese subsidiaries in China, our staff have cooperated to allow us to stay open for almost the entire week so that we are available when Japanese companies are open.

This is the official holiday calendar for February 2010.

This is the HCI holiday calendar for February 2010.