Chinese Calendar dates
There are many, joyous Chinese Festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. A number of the festivals follow the old Chinese calendar rather than the western (Gregorian) calendar. The old calendar was based on the moon so just as with the Christian Easter, some festivals fall on different days each year. The Chinese 节气 jié qì solar calendar has been used for farming as the date of sowing, reaping needs to keep step with the sun rather than the moon. For an explanation of how the Chinese calendar works please visit our Chinese Calendar section. In recent years some festivals have been moved to a Monday or Friday to give a three day weekend. The mixture of moveable and fixed, modern and ancient create a complex pattern of public holidays.
Dates of major Chinese Festivals in the next 12 monthsClick on the link to show details
5th February 2023 Lantern Festival (Yuánxiāojié 元宵节)
5th April 2023 Bright and Clear Festival (Qīngmíng 清明)
22nd June 2023 Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔjié 端午节)
22nd August 2023 Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qīxìjié 七夕节)
29th September 2023 Mid Autumn Festival (Zhōngqiūjié 中秋节)
1st October 2023 National day (Guó qìng jié 国庆节)
11th November 2023 Singles day (Guāng gùn jié 光棍节)
10th February 2024 Chinese New Year - Spring Festival (Chūnjié 春节)
Festivals reflect the mixed religious traditions in China. Some of the festivals honor more than one religion, others mark the passage of the seasons. Back in dynastic history there were no weekends or days of rest, so festivals were the only holidays and that is why there are so important. All these dates are for the current year (2023) or the following year. The festivals are shown in the order they occur over a full 12 months and is updated everyday. They are also shown on our Chinese Calendar which shows all the official public holidays.
Sunday 5th February 2023
Lantern Festival (Yuánxiāojié 元宵节)
The Lantern festival also known as (上元节 Shàng yuán jié) is on the first full moon after the New Year and marks the very end of the Spring Festival. Lanterns are lit and in places very long paper dragons parade the streets. The tradition is that lanterns light the way for the ancestral spirits to go back to their tombs after joining the family for the festivities. Great creativity is used in lantern design, they come in all shapes and sizes (globes, dragons, lamps) and can include moving parts. Before electric light was available this was widely considered the most attractive and brilliant festival of the year. Many lanterns are made of lucky red paper and some lanterns have entertaining riddles painted on them. Tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) or yuanxiao are eaten and fir branches placed above doors. Taro (Colocasia esculenta) is a vegetable often eaten at the festival. The traditional lion dance was originally tied to only this festival but now are seen more generally throughout the year. In the countryside it was believed that disease could be banished at this time by a long procession out of the village, with many firecrackers scaring away and taking the illness with it. Children, often in scary masks, used to put on little stage shows and pantomimes.
Dates : Tue Feb 15 2022 Sun Feb 5 2023 Sat Feb 24 2024
Tuesday 21st February 2023
Blue Dragon Festival (Lóng tái tóu 龙抬头)
The double second (2nd day of 2nd lunar month) marks the first tentative signs of Spring. The name ‘Blue Dragon’ reflects the tradition of waking the dragons that control the rains. Longtaitou literally means ‘dragon raise head’. It usually occurs around the time of 惊蛰 Jīngzhí in the lichuan calendar which marks the stirring of insects. It was originally the time when fumigation was used to kill off the emerging insects. The festival is now celebrated by cleaning the house, having a haircut, eating popcorn, pancakes and noodles. Zhonghe Festival (中和节) is an ancient festival traditionally held on the preceding day (1st of the 2nd lunar month) so nowadays the two are celebrated together. It is not a public holiday.
Dates : Fri Mar 4 2022 Tue Feb 21 2023 Mon Mar 11 2024
Friday 3rd March 2023
Flower Festival (Huā zhāo jié 花朝节)
The traditional Flower Festival is held on the twelfth day of the second lunar month. The great Tang Empress Wu Zetian is associated with this minor festival which celebrates the birthday of the god of flowers. It roughly marks the time of the first flowers of Spring. It is also a good day to plant up the garden ready for summer.
Wednesday 8th March 2023
Women’s day (Guó jì fù nǔ jié 国际妇女节)
On the foundation of the People's Republic in 1949 the 8th March was designated Women's Day with a half or full day's holiday for women in China. Originally it was held on the last Saturday in February. In Russia it was moved to Sunday 8th March for 1914 and has kept to this day ever since.
Friday 10th March 2023
Birthday of Guanyin (Guàn yīn dàn 观音诞)
The most revered of Buddhist Bodhisattvas is Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy who intercedes on behalf of any who pray to her. Her birthday is traditionally marked by a minor festival on the 19th of the second lunar month. One of the holiest places sacred to her is on Putuo Island, Zhejiang where there is a huge statue looking out East over the ocean.
Sunday 12th March 2023
Arbor or Tree planting day (Zhí shù jié 植树节)
To make up for widespread deforestation over many centuries, on 12th March 植树节 people are encouraged to go out to plant trees. Trees help stabilize the soil and reduce flooding as well as being an uplifting sight. It is not a holiday and was instituted as late as 1981.
Tuesday 4th April 2023
Cold Food Festival (Hán shí jié 寒食节)
Cold Food day commemorates the story of Jie Zitui ➚ a loyal and humble servant at the time of the Spring and Autumn Period. The servant is supposed to have cut off part of his own thigh to offer sustenance to his starving master. Jie Zitui shunned rewards and fled to a mountain with his mother, he was pursued by an angry prince and only resisted burning down Jie's house after reading a pleading poem written in blood. To mark the event no fires are lit and all food is served cold. More practically it marks the time when the fires used continuously for heating over the winter are put out and the all the ashes cleared away - so there is no fire available for cooking. It is a minor festival held on the eve of Qing Ming . As the events took place in Shanxi province it is mainly there that the festival is celebrated.
Wednesday 5th April 2023
Bright and Clear Festival (Qīngmíng 清明)
Traditionally the family's tombs in the ancestral graveyard are cleaned and swept at Qing Ming with fresh offerings laid out for the ancestors. Candles are lit and incense burned. Paper images of various goods and also money may be ritually burned to pass-over to the ancestors. When the extended family leaves the graveyard fire-crackers are often set off. It is the time to sow and plant crops and so is anchored to the solar year rather than the lunar year; this makes it falls between April 4th and April 6th. It marks the start of Spring and is associated with kite flying and a good day for a picnic in the countryside. It has similarities to the Christian Easter Spring festival in that eggs are prepared and eaten. In some areas boys wore willow wreathes on their heads to summon rain for the growing season.
Dates : Tue Apr 5 2022 Wed Apr 5 2023 Thu Apr 4 2024
Thursday 13th April 2023
Water Splashing Festival (Pō shuǐ jié 泼水节)
The Dai people of Yunnan people have great fun getting very wet on April 13th each year. It commemorates victory over a water demon that had kidnapped seven young sisters. There are very many festivals specific to particular minority people, this is one of the best known through documentaries on television.
Saturday 22nd April 2023
Shangsi Festival (Shàngsìjié 上巳节)
Celebrated on the 3rd day of the 3rd Lunar month, Shangsi was traditionally a day for cleaning the house and going away on an outing. It is not an official holiday in China. The festival marks the birthday of the Queen Mother of the West (Xi Wangmu), a leading Daoist deity and the festival is also known as the Banquet of Peaches of Immortality. The day is associated with many folk beliefs concerning the opening of portals between the living and the dead. The founding Yellow Emperor is also believed to have had his birthday on this day. Sticky rice cakes called baba 粑粑 are sometimes eaten.
Dates : Sun Apr 3 2022 Sat Apr 22 2023 Thu Apr 11 2024
Monday 1st May 2023
Labor day (Láo dòng jié 劳动节)
A modern international holiday marks the toil of workers on 1st May in many countries. It is a one day holiday in China reflecting the socialist/communist history of the PRC. These new festivals like Labor Day were introduced when the PRC was founded but have gradually given way to the older, traditional ones, three whole days used to be allocated but this has been reduced to just one day since 2008.
Thursday 4th May 2023
Birthday of the God of Wealth (Zhào gōngmíng 赵公明)
If you want to become more prosperous then making the appropriate offerings to the God of Wealth (Zhao Gongming) or God of Money (Cai Shen) on his birthday could do the trick. This birthday is marked on the 15th day of the third lunar month of the traditional calendar. He is often depicted with an iron club and riding a black tiger. There are various conflicting legends concerning his life which dates back before the Qin dynasty. You will often see sculptures of toads associated with him as these are also denote riches. It is a minor festival and not a public holiday.
Thursday 4th May 2023
Youth Day (Qīng nián jié 青年节)
Commemorates the activity of young people on May 4th 1919 that went on to form the Chinese Communist Party and then the People's Republic of China in 1949. It also marks the foundation of the influential May 4th movement. It is not a public holiday.
Saturday 20th May 2023
I Love You Day (Wǔ èr líng 五二零)
Rather like Single's day the day 5.20 (20th May) has become an excuse among the young for another Valentine's day. It is all because the number 520 in Chinese can sound vaguely like 我爱你 wǒ ài nǐ ‘I love you’. So if you can’t wait until Valentine's day there is now another day to pledge your love and get engaged. Only popular in cities.
Thursday 1st June 2023
Childrens day (Liù yī ér tóng jié 六一儿童节)
A recent holiday specifically for children under 14 was created under the PRC to be held each year on 1st June. Admission to cinemas is free and presents are given to children.
Thursday 22nd June 2023
Dragon Boat Festival (Duānwǔjié 端午节)
The highpoint of the sun's journey at the Summer Solstice marks the start of the warmest season, but also the gradual reduction in length of days. It is celebrated as the Dragon Boat Festival on the fifth day of the fifth month which often falls near the summer solstice. As well as procuring rain from the water controlling dragons for the summer crops, it commemorates the life of Qu Yuan (340-278 BCE), an incorruptible public official and famous poet who drowned himself in defiance of false accusations maliciously made against him. Many boats went out in search for his body and from this legend, dragon boat races take place throughout the world.
Pyramid-shaped rice cakes 粽子 zòng zi and garlic 蒜 suàn are associated with this festival, some are fed to the fish on the basis that they would then leave Qu Yuan's body alone. Two teams of 15-30 people race each other in boats (around 66 feet [20 meters] long) with a decorated dragon prow. One person stands and beats the drum to set the rhythm for the rowers. Sometimes the races are held in the evening with the boats lit by red lanterns. It is only recently (2008) that this has once again become an official public holiday. Hong Kong is well known for the large number of races that take place each year. The fifth month is generally regarded as the most unlucky month and charms were used to keep the bad influence at bay, for example with pictures of Zhong Kui or putting iris flowers over the door. Stems and leaves of the herb mugwort or calamus were made into figure shapes and hung from the lintel to keep away pests and diseases. Traditionally Realgar ➚ wine (containing Arsenic sulfide) was drunk to kill off internal parasites and infections. It was also one of the few days of financial settlement in a year - debts were paid off and accounts settled.
Dates : Fri Jun 3 2022 Thu Jun 22 2023 Mon Jun 10 2024
Friday 30th June 2023
Rain Festival (Yǔ jié 雨节)
Rain is essential for crops and so a minor festival, the Rain Festival is associated with bringing rain on the 13th of the fifth month. Ceremonies wish for just the right quantity of rain, not too little and not too much. Like St. Swithin's day ➚, the absence of rain on this day may presage a drought. There are many gods of rain and legends about them and the Dragon Boat festival was originally about rain. As rain is associated with dragons they feature prominently in such tales including the Jinlong Si Dawang (Golden Dragon King). It is not a public holiday.
Tuesday 18th July 2023
Half Year Festival (Bàn nián jié 半年节)
The half way point of the lunar calendar year falls on the 1st day of the 6th month, and it is a time to reflect on the year so far. Mainly celebrated in southern China, the Half Year Festival is a small echo of the New Year Festival, with fire crackers, zong zi (glutinous rice) and family get-togethers. According to legend in Jiashanwu Village near Hangzhou a long drought was ended by the efforts of a mysterious old man. It is a minor festival and not a public holiday.
Sunday 23rd July 2023
Clothes Drying Day (Shài yī jié 晒衣节)
When the sun’s heat reaches its full power this minor festival is the occasion to lay out anything that needs drying in the sun. Clothes, bedding, papers and grain are some of the things that can benefit from a thorough airing and drying in the sun. Clothes Drying Day takes place on the sixth day of sixth month. The legend is that the Dragon King, ruler of water, spent this day drying his scales. Another tale is that it was the day when the Buddhist scriptures that were being carried into China in the 'Journey to the West' were laid out to dry and so temples used to bring out the scriptures for a good airing. It is a minor festival and not a public holiday.
Tuesday 1st August 2023
Army day (Jiàn jūn jié 建军节)
A recently instituted half-day holiday for military personnel is held on the 1st August each year. The date commemorates the Nanchang uprising of August 1st 1927 when the Communist forces for the first time formed an effective army unit which routed the Guomindang forces that occupied the city of Nanchang. Many of the communist military leaders went on to take part in the Long March and then the establishment of the People's Republic.
Wednesday 16th August 2023
Ghost Gate Opens (Guǐ mén kāi 鬼门开)
The seventh month of the traditional Chinese calendar is associated with ghosts. The Hungry Ghost festival in the middle of the seventh month is the main festival but some people also mark the start of the month - Ghost Gate. The ghost month is considered unlucky, spirits wander around for the whole month and so new projects, marriages and enterprises should not be started. One superstition of relevance is to avoid sticking chopsticks vertically into the ricebowl as this invites in the ghosts. It is a minor festival and not a public holiday.
Tuesday 22nd August 2023
Chinese Valentine’s Day (Qīxìjié 七夕节)
This festival has its origins as a festival for women, honoring Zhinu 织女, a weaver, who was separated by the gods from her husband, Niulang a cowherd. She spent this one dry night with her husband by following a bridge made by magpies. The husband and wife are the stars Vega ➚ and Altair ➚ and the bridge is the Milky Way. It is held on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month and nowadays it is marked by exchanging gifts between sweethearts. On the preceding day people used to follow various customs to foretell their future. Also traditional games were played to test the dexterity of girls in deference to Zhinu - the skilled weaver. It was also said to be the day when the Daoist immortal the Queen Mother of West visited the Emperor. In some regions it is also associated with lanterns and guiding spirits as it falls within the Ghost month. Nowadays is more like the western Valentine's Day - couples give each other presents to show their enduring affection.
Dates : Thu Aug 4 2022 Tue Aug 22 2023 Sat Aug 10 2024
Wednesday 30th August 2023
Hungry Ghost (Yúlánpén 盂兰盆)
This festival is held on the 15th day (full moon) of the 7th lunar (ghost) month. It is also known as the mid-year festival (中元节 zhōng yuán jié). Traditionally the sufferings of ancestors are appeased by making offerings of food or incense at the ancestral shrine. Prayers are also said for spirits who have no families to venerate them. Paper flags may be hung over doorways to keep out the hungry ghosts.
Dates : Fri Aug 12 2022 Wed Aug 30 2023 Sun Aug 18 2024
Sunday 10th September 2023
Teachers day (Jiào shī jié 教师节)
Teachers have their own special day when students show respect and give them presents. It is not a public holiday and is held on 10th September each year. It is not entirely clear why this date was chosen, but it is usually near the start of the new school year after the summer holidays.
Thursday 28th September 2023
Confucius’s Birthday (Modern) (Jì kǒng dà diǎn 祭孔大典)
Traditionally the birthday of the great sage and philosopher Confucius was celebrated on the 27th of the 8th lunar month particularly at his birthplace of Qufu in Shandong. It is now tied to a specific day, the 28th September each year.
Friday 29th September 2023
Mid Autumn Festival (Zhōngqiūjié 中秋节)
The Autumn Moon Festival takes place at full moon in the 8th lunar month (15th day), it marks the end of harvest. Lanterns are lit and round moon cakes are cooked and consumed in large numbers - these are usually filled with soybean paste, lotus seeds and egg yolk and covered in pastry. As there is a tradition that a rabbit lived on the moon, rabbits or hares are a popular image. Another tradition is to layout peaches, melon or grapes in a circle of thirteen as there are 13 lunar months in a year. It was also one of the few days of financial settlement in a year - debts were paid off and accounts settled. Ancient pagodas were decorated with lanterns to shine out at night. It celebrates Chang'e, the goddess of the moon, and particularly her romance with the archer god Houyi. Traditionally, spirits of the dead came forth to feast on the fruits of summer harvest. People would climb hills and mountains to watch the rising of the full moon with the greeting 看月亮 Kàn yuè liang ‘Look at the bright moon!’
Dates : Sat Sep 10 2022 Fri Sep 29 2023 Tue Sep 17 2024
Sunday 1st October 2023
National day (Guó qìng jié 国庆节)
National day marks the founding of the Peoples Republic on 1st October 1949. There are often three days of public holiday in all, shifted to give a continuous five day holiday when combined with a weekend. It is called the ‘Golden Week’ and as the weather is often good many go away for a short holiday.
Monday 23rd October 2023
Chong Yang Festival (Zhòngyángjié 重阳节)
On the 9th day of the 9th month people used to take to high ground and fly all sorts of kites as a way of appeasing the spirits. If a mountain or hill is not to hand a tall building or pagoda would be climbed. It follows the legend of Huan Jing ➚ of the Han dynasty, who was told by the gods to move to high ground to escape floods. In Chinese numerology 9 is a strong yang number and is generally inauspicious; so this day had to be treated with respect. Food is laid out to calm the spirits of the ancestors. As chrysanthemums are usually in flower, chrysanthemum wine is often drunk and petals are collected to flavor next year's batch. Because nine 九 jiǔ sounds like forever 久 jiǔ it has now become associated with elderly people and since 1989 has also been celebrated as ‘Seniors Day’.
Dates : Tue Oct 4 2022 Mon Oct 23 2023 Fri Oct 11 2024
Saturday 11th November 2023
Singles day (Guāng gùn jié 光棍节)
A very recent special day, is ‘Single's Day’ when young, single people buy themselves presents. The festival started among men at Nanjing University in the 1990s and has caught on rapidly in cities throughout China and amongst single women too. The choice of date is based around ‘11.11’ having four single ‘ones’ in it, representing two couples. It is now a popular day to declare love and propose marriage. More importantly it has become the world's busiest shopping day (lots online but also in shops), Alibaba ➚ heavily promotes it as a special occasion to spend money. It is not a national holiday.
Wednesday 13th December 2023
Nanjing Massacre memorial day (Nán jīng dà tú shā 南京大屠杀)
Friday 22nd December 2023
Winter Solstice (Dōngzhì 冬至)
Dongzhi marks the shortest day of the year - the mid Winter solstice (December 22nd or more rarely 21st), and is traditionally a time for eating rice balls or dumplings after offerings have been made to the kitchen god. In deference to the cold conditions the celebrations are held in the home not in out public. This festival like Qingming is tied to the sun rather than the moon.
Dates : Thu Dec 22 2022 Fri Dec 22 2023 Sun Dec 22 2024
Monday 25th December 2023
Christmas day (Shèng dàn lǎo rén 圣诞老人)
In recent years the western celebration of Christmas on 25th December has had increasing observance. This is chiefly an excuse to buy presents for children in the cities. Shengdan Laoren is a transliteration of ‘Santa’ as ‘sheng:圣’ saintly ‘dan:诞’ birth followed by ‘laoren:老人’ old man. As Santa is dressed in lucky red this greatly adds to his appeal. To wish someone ‘Merry Christmas’ you can say 圣诞快乐 shèng dàn kuài lè. It is not an official holiday.
The following festivals are all in next year: 2024
Monday 1st January 2024
New Years day (Yuán dàn 元旦)
When China adopted the western, Gregorian calendar ➚ on the founding of the Republic of China in 1912, the ‘western’ beginning of the year January 1st began to be celebrated just like elsewhere in the world. Since 2008 it has become a public holiday lasting 3 days. Sometimes the holiday is shifted to give an extended weekend.
Thursday 18th January 2024
Laba Festival (Làbā jié 腊八节)
Laba congee ➚ is traditionally eaten on the Laba festival. It is held on the 8th day of the twelfth lunar month and is associated with the Buddhist festival marking Buddha's enlightenment. The festival is observed mostly in northern China and not much in the south. It is not a public holiday.
Dates : Thu Jan 18 2024 Tue Jan 7 2025
Saturday 10th February 2024
Chinese New Year - Spring Festival (Chūnjié 春节)
New Year is the main annual festival in China determined by the old Chinese calendar. It falls on the second new moon after the winter solstice, so it is held towards the end of January or early February. For at least 2,000 years it has been a time for all families to get together, often traveling long distances. Brightly colored red papers and paper cut designs are displayed everywhere frequently carrying the character ‘fu’ for good fortune. The traditional lion dance is seen in public festivities. The festival lasts a whole week of public holiday (Jan 21st to Jan 27th in 2023) and during this time everyone tries to be on their best behavior to set the tone for the whole year. It is considered not just the start of a new year but everybody's birthday too.
There are large firework displays in the cities. The ancestors are given due reverence at the festival. When guests arrive they should bring along food or a gift; these can take the form of packets of ‘lucky paper money’ in red envelopes. Fish and Jiaozi (dumplings) are often eaten, the character for fish yu 鱼 sounds the same as the character yu 余 meaning ‘surplus; abundance’ so a dish of fish has a lucky connotation. The entrance to a house is often decorated with couplets written in large calligraphy on red paper on either side of the entrance. Traditional fairs are held at temples selling all sorts of small gifts and decorations during the holiday.
Dates : Sun Jan 22 2023 Sat Feb 10 2024 Wed Jan 29 2025