Holiday Weekend – Chinese Style

It’s Saturday morning and, although my head aches slighltly from the revelery of the Friday night before, I rise early.  Usually I’m up early on weekends anyway, but today I have a mission to accomplish.  I need cat food.  Standing outside the locked door of the store at 730, I’m perplexed.  The store does not open until 830.  I will have to wait, and this is not good.  Since this weekend is a holiday weekend in China, waiting until 830 for the store to open will mean I will be late for work.

Even after more than two years here, the pulic holidays prove a difficult adjustment.  Most of the national holidays come by the lunar calendar, which results in the date and the day of the week changing yearly in the solar calendar.  This mixing of calendars, dogs and cats living together, results in some interesting holiday rituals, the most painful being a toss-up between the fireworks at all hours of the night, at all locations of high rise buildings, and the Saturday workday.  There are one day and three day holidays under this system.

One day holidays, result in three days off.  Stay with me here. Presumably the powers that be want to give workers the time to get home and back for each of the holidays, thus needing three consecutive non-work days for a one day holiday.  If the holiday falls on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday or Monday, no problem.  Just link one day off with the weekend, viola! Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday holidays require some work-week manipulation. Now, an extra day off is needed and is paid for by a Saturday work day.

The three day holidays, result in five days off. Spring Festival and National Day, two extra days off are needed to link the three holiday-days with the accompanying weekends.  These two days come from the book-ended weekends, so around these holidays working on a weekend is inescapable.  Worse, weekly routines for are thrown off kilter for over two weeks, just for a three days off. Aiyo!

The store opens, I grab the cat food and go.  Late commuting time Saturday morning, the metro is still packed with commuters, and I get to work much later than usual…just another holiday weekend in China.

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