Today is the last day of the National Day “Golden Week”, a seven-day* public holiday in celebration of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.
Golden Week — there are two each year, following the Chinese New Year and National Day holidays — is better known for the massive wave of human migration it inspires. The entire country is on public holiday, and of course many people want to put their extra vacation days to good use. The result? Packed trains and airplanes, endless lines, jacked up hotel prices (in China and abroad!) and general chaos.
About 589 million – more than half of the country’s population! — Chinese tourists were expected to travel either domestically or internationally during this year’s National Day Golden Week, according to a prediction from the Chinese Tourism Academy. Those travelers were expected to spend about $70 billion during the days set aside to commemorate the rise of the country’s Communist Party.
I did my own Golden Week adventuring in 2014 and 2015, back when I had the mental and physical fortitude to brave the crowds and financial rip offs in the spirit of exploring China. This year I’ve opted for having a staycation in Shanghai, which tends to clear out during the holidays, and using my remaining vacation days to travel when the rest of the country returns to work.
I decided to observe National Day in my own way – by doing research (yay!) and finally learning the symbolic meaning of the PRC’s “Five Star Red Flag.”
The large golden star on the upper left corner represents the communist revolution and the four smaller stars encircling it symbolize the country’s four social classes: the workers, peasants, urban bourgeoisie and national bourgeoisie. Together, the five stars are intended to illustrate the unity of the Chinese people under the Communist Party.
The more you know.
*note: Although the National Day public holiday is technically only three days (Oct 1-3) many employers offer their workers seven consecutive days (“Golden Week”) of vacation time. Afterwards, those extra days are essentially reimbursed by employees, who need to work four “make up” days during normal weekends. After the seven-day holiday, many employees are required to work a 7-day week to make up for lost time.