Calls made for more public holidays
By Zhu Yuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-10-03 06:31

There are already three "Golden Weeks" in the Chinese calendar, but plans are afoot to add more.

The State Council, China's cabinet, is preparing to debate adding three more traditional festivals to the list of statutory national holidays, a Chinese lawmaker has said.

The move would be controversial, with some experts unsure of the need for more holidays, and other lawmakers calling for the Golden Weeks to be scrapped altogether.

Ji Baocheng, president of the Beijing-based Renmin University and one of the people behind the change, was quoted as saying that the move will involve Qingming Festival (or Tomb-Sweeping Day), Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival.

Pressure for the change has come from deputies of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, and members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. They have put forward motions on the change for three consecutive years.

Ji, an NPC deputy, said he recently received a response from the Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council, notifying him that the cabinet has already authorized research into the change.

"These traditional festivals have rich cultural connotations and have played important roles in carrying on the traditional customs from generation to generation. They still function as an adhesive for Chinese people of different ethnic groups," Ji was quoted as saying by the China News Agency.

But some sociologists do not agree, arguing that Chinese people already have enough holidays and it is not necessary to turn these traditional festivals into official holidays.

"To add more holidays is a significant issue that concerns the whole nation. It will unavoidably affect some industries," said Professor Chen Changwen of Sichuan University.

The country currently has four official national holidays: Spring Festival, Labour Day (May 1), National Day (October 1) and New Year's Day, adding up to 10 days off work in total.

Last week, a leading tourism official said that after seven years Golden Weeks were losing their shine and should be cancelled.

"The quality of people's travelling experiences has been negatively influenced during the past six years due to contradictions between consumer demands and service capacity," said Wang Zhifa, vice-director of the National Tourism Administration.

Qingming Festival is usually in early April. People pay tribute to their loved ones who have passed away.

Dragon Boat Festival was originally observed in memory of the ancient poet Qu Yuan (about 340-275 BC), who drowned himself because of failing to have his advice accepted by his king in the Warring State Period (475-221 BC).

People wrap glutinous rice with bamboo or reed leaves to make pyramid-shaped dumplings, and hold dragon boat races. The day falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.

Mid-Autumn Festival falls on the 15th day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar.

It is a day for families to reunite, eat moon cakes and appreciate a bright and round moon.