Holidays in China

Today I want to talk about the holidays in China. Or, well, maybe about the lack of them.

In my home country, Spain, there are around 12 public holidays, counting national holidays like New Year, Christmas and the Constitution day, and also regional and local festivities. Apart from this, people are entitled to have one month of annual holidays (you earn 2.5 free days for each month you worked). Spanish people normally like enjoying their holidays in August, going to the beach or to the grandparents’ village.

In China people don’t have annual holidays, just the public holidays.  The working calendar for 2014 looks like this:

Note that March, July, August, November and December are not here. That means there isn’t a single holiday on those months.

The days marked in red are holidays. So it seems this year we will have 27 days off! But wait, some Saturdays and Sundays are marked red, that is cheating! I don’t work on Saturdays and Sundays anyway!! So if I deduct the red weekends, we just have 16 days off. This is not looking good! But hey, what do the blue days mean? Oh, blue means you have to work… and wait, there are some weekends marked in blue!! 3 Sundays and 2 Saturdays!! What does this mean?? That means in 2014 Chinese people have just ELEVEN DAYS FOR HOLIDAYS IN A YEAR!! Uhm, it sounds like slavery to me…

I really hate when you have to work on a Saturday or Sunday to make up for a holiday. For example, today I had to work! And I can declare that these “working weekends” are a waste of money for companies. People don’t feel like working and just stay in the office chatting or buying in Taobao. But still they have to go and pretend they are doing something while they could be at home with their families, reading a book or just enjoying their scarce free time.

I hate it even more when they want to officially cheat you. For example, for Chinese New Year, people would say: “We have a week off!”. But no, my dear, you don’t have a week off. You just have 5 days off, as you will have to work the previous Sunday and the Saturday afterwards! And sometimes you have to work 10 days in a row and it’s just exhausting. For example, the people in my office worked 10 days straight from January 20 to 29 as they wanted to have January 30 free. That day was New Year’s Eve but it wasn’t a public holiday. Seriously, who decides the public holidays? Most Chinese people don’t work in the same city as their family lives, how were they supposed to get in time to the New Year’s Eve dinner if they had to work that day?

I am pretty lucky because I work in a Spanish company and I can enjoy my annual month of holidays. But I feel very sorry for Chinese people. What is the purpose of life if the only thing you do is working? When can they travel? Just for Chinese New Year or the National October week, when everybody has the same idea and all the places in China are so crowded you can’t even walk?

Last year our Chinese boss gave the people in our office a week of holidays apart from the public ones. They were so happy! Our purchase manager took her son to Guilin, our HR and admin managers went together with their sons to Hong Kong, the logistics girl went to Beijing… trips they wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for this extra week.

*Edited: I just remembered that they do have annual paid holidays. 5 days a year. So few that my brain refused to even consider it haha.