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Holiday woe after 2014 dates announced

Lunar New Year’s Eve, on January 30, is to be excluded from next year’s national holidays, a major disappointment for many people as the eve of the Spring Festival is actually the most important time for family reunions.

According to a decision signed by Premier Li Keqiang, the 7-day Lunar New Year or Spring Festival holiday will start on January 31 with January 26 (a Sunday) and February 8 (a Saturday) working days because these days will be “borrowed.”

The week-long celebration is made up of three official days plus two weekends and two borrowed days.

The Lunar New Year’s Eve had been included in the official three-day break since 2007.

Meanwhile, January 1, a Wednesday, is to be a day off to mark the beginning of 2014.

The April 5 Qingming Festival is on a Saturday, and the following Monday will be an additional day off to make up a 3-day break.

The Dragon Boat Festival (June 2) and Mid-Autumn Festival (September 8) are also 3-day breaks because both fall on a Monday.

The May Day holiday next year borrows a day from the Sunday after so there will be six working days after the 3-day celebration.

The National Day Holiday, from October 1 to 7, marks an end to the year’s 11 official days. October 1-3 are the official days plus the following weekend and two “borrowed” days —  the Sunday before and the Saturday after which will be working days.

By 8:30pm yesterday, over 88 percent of more than 70,000 voters in a poll on Sina.com had registered their disagreement over the decision to exclude Lunar New Year’s Eve from the official days off while nearly 85 percent expressed dissatisfaction with next year’s holiday arrangements as a whole.

The common view expressed was that the Lunar New Year’s Eve was a very important day for family reunions and the State Council decision was strongly criticized.

One netizen in northeastern Dalian in City said instant dumplings would be the best choice for a Lunar New Year’s Eve dinner as people would have to work that day. Dumplings are the traditional main course for dinner on Lunar New Year’s Eve, especially among people in northern China.

Some netizens commented last night that they will wait outside the holiday coordinating office on January 30 to see when officials stop work.

The office opened a poll at news portals on October 10. The results showed most Chinese to be unhappy with the country’s public holiday arrangements which feature long breaks at the cost of working extra days.

China has 11 official days off a year. Usually, two weekdays around a single holiday date are also given as holiday creating a three-day break. Time is made up by working weekends.

And for a seven-day holiday over National Day and the Spring Festival, employees must usually work six, seven or even eight consecutive days to offset the extra days off.

The system has been long criticized as unreasonable and described as a fraud as it merely creates the illusion of longer holidays. Because the vast majority of the population is on holiday at the same time, huge numbers flock to tourist attractions, creating what the Chinese call “a mountain of people, a sea of people.”

In December 2007, in a bid to ease holiday congestion, the 7-day Labor Day holiday was reduced to become three days.

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