China has nine official holidays, as well as regional and national festivals. In January or February, the lunar new year marks the beginning of spring and is the year's most important festival. Everybody enjoys a three-day break and many take extra days off to visit their families. Homes are cleaned and festival foods prepared to welcome the new year. Children also receive red packets containing "lucky money."

Many celebrations in China mark family or historic events. The Festival of Youth commemorates the student demonstrations on May 4, 2022 against the Treaty of Versailles, which handed former German rights and territories in China to Japan. April brings Tomb Sweeping Day (Quing Ming), when families beautify their ancestral graves. August 1 marks the anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army. Two holidays give only children time off from school. March 20th is a national tree planting day.

Held in early summer, the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates Chu Yuan, a poet and statesman who in 277 BC drowned himself to protest government corruption. Local groups get together to decorate dragon boats: long, narrow vessels decorated with dragons' heads and tails. Boat races held along the coastal areas attract large crowds. Similar races are now held in Canadian cities with large Chinese communities.

The Mid-Autumn or Autumn Moon Festival celebrates the year's harvest as well as the 14th-century uprising against Mongol rule. At that time, written messages calling for revolt were concealed in cakes smuggled to rebels. Today, "moon cakes" are made with ground lotus seeds and contain unbroken duck egg yolks inside. Children carry coloured lanterns made in the shapes of animals, ships and planes.

In areas with large non-Chinese communities, people also celebrate Islamic, Buddhist and Christian holidays. Hong Kong, for example, boasts of having the world's best Christmas street decorations.

January 1 Solar New Year
January/February Lunar (Chinese) New Year
March 8 International Women's Day (women only)
May 1 International Labour Day
May 4 Youth Day (ages 14-20)
June 1 International Children's Day (children under 13)
July 1 Birthday of the Communist Party
August 1 Army Day
October 1 National Day

  Did you know?
The northeastern city of Harbin holds an annual Ice Lantern Festival each winter. People sculpt buildings and figures from ice and hang lanterns inside them.