Most countries have their own form of Labor Day, and the eastern countries are no different. China’s Labor Day is steeped in tradition and takes place the first week of May. During this time, Chinese workers will have time to celebrate the holiday and partake in deep rooted traditions. Here will go over the rich culture of the holiday.

History of Chinese Labor Day

Chinese Labor Day, or “May Day” can be traced back to the late 19th century, amidst the backdrop of the global labor movement. Inspired by the struggles and triumphs of workers in the West, Chinese activists began advocating for the rights and welfare of laborers within their own nation.

One standout moment took place on May 1, 1920, when the first official celebration of Labor Day occurred in China. Organized by the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of China, this event served as a rallying cry for people across the nation, demanding better working conditions, fair wages, and an end to the exploitation of workers.

Although the holiday served as a catalyst for the movement of workers’ rights, it wouldn’t be until decades later that results would be found. The nation was gripped by political upheaval, including the Chinese Civil War and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Despite these times, the plight of workers remained a central concern for activists.

It wasn’t until 1949 that Chinese Labor Day was officially recognized as a public holiday. Under the efforts of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s, the holiday took on added significance as China embraced market-oriented reforms and sought to integrate into the global economy.

However, it wasn’t until the 80’s and 90’s where China’s explosive economic growth allowed them to raise millions out of poverty and improve conditions. Though still not perfect, they are continuing to help the conditions of their workers as time and technology move on.

Traditions of Chinese Labor Day

Chinese Labor Day is a holiday where most will travel home and spend time with their families. It is a period of relaxation where people get a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of normal work life. People will spend time in nature, enjoy sports and overall take some time to relax and recharge. Tourism and shopping are also a staple of May Day. Stores will offer discounts to encourage people to enjoy some of their well-earned money on goods.

It’s good for everyone to take time off from work for their health and wellbeing. May Day is a reflection of that just like its western counterpart Labor Day. For more information on Chinese Holidays, stay tuned to our blog posts.