People!

Consider this my annual obligatory “I’m-glad-I-wasn’t-travelling-in-China-during-Golden-Week” post.

In 1999, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, AND to stimulate the economy, the government decreed that henceforth every man woman and child in China (that would be 1.35 billion of them) would get a 7-day holiday beginning on October 1. The week would be known as “Golden Week.”

The message was clear: TRAVEL! GO SHOPPING! EAT IN RESTAURANTS! SPEND MONEY! (Hmmm….I wonder what Mao would think of those being the government mandated activities to celebrate the beginning of Communist rule. But I digress….)

Of course it’s not entirely true that everyone gets the week off, since there has to be someone to fly the planes, man the ticket booths, work in the shops, and cook the food. But pretty much everyone else in the country had the week off and they took to the streets, the skies, and the tourist spots.

Shanghaiist has compiled some pics from around the country. Here are a few of the scariest…er…um…best:

too_many_people3 too_many_people15 too_many_people19 too_many_people56

More photos here.

And let this be a reminder to you that if anyone ever suggests that you visit China the first week of October, just imagine yourself in one of these photos. Then politely decline.

A Mountain of People, An Ocean of People

All Together now

China on the Move, Visualized

Happy Birthday, China

flagraisingtams

China may be an ancient civilization, but today (October 1), it celebrated its 64th birthday. It was on this day in 1949 that Chairman Mao stood atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace (Tiananmen) and declared the founding of The People’s Republic of China.

mao

The holiday is called National Day, and it marks the beginning of what has come to be  known as “Golden Week.” Basically, the entire nation has a 7 day holiday. The logic behind the holiday is not so everyone can spend a week basking in the glories of Communism, but so they can spend money.

LONG LIVE CHAIRMAN MAO; NOW GET OUT THERE AND SHOP!!

DOWN WITH CAPITALIST ROADERS….NO, WAIT…GET OUT THERE AND TRAVEL!!

SERVE THE PEOPLE WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND SOUL….WHICH REMINDS US…DON’T FORGET TO PACK OUT THE RESTAURANTS!!

At the end of the week, the government will announce how much money was pumped into the economy. No doubt it will be a glorious amount.

Here are some past posts I’ve written on (or about) China’s National Day:

Chinese Freeways are Finally Free…Sort of… (2012)

A Mountain of People, an Ocean of People (2011)

National Day, 1984 (2011)

It’s Last Tuesday, or Next Thursday, or Something (2009)

The Parade in 3:42 Minutes (2009)

China Nearing 60 (2009)

Happy Birthday, China (2008)

The Holiday is Over (2005)

Happy Birthday, China (2005)

 

Photos: Xinhua and China.org.cn

 

Happy Birthday, China

Today (October 1, 2005–I’m in a different time zone) is the 56h birthday of the People’s Republic of China.  But wait, you say, I thought China was an ancient civilazation with 5000 years of history!  Well, that’s true, but the nation that we know today was founded 49 years ago, when Chairman Mao stood atop the Gate of Heavenly Peace overlooking Tiananmen Square and declared that the the “Chinese people have stood up.”  It was the declaration of victory by the Communist Party over the Nationalist Party in their decades-old civil war for control of China.  I wandered around the old city for awhile this afternoon, and saw this man sitting under the national flag.  It’s quite likely that he was in the Square that day 56 years ago today.

Now it’s a holiday called National Day, or Guoqing Jie (lit. “congratulate nation festival), and it is celebrated with much pomp and patriotism.  In the past, it was always an occasion for a military parade down the Avenue of Eternal Peace, which runs through the heart of Beijing, past Tiananmen Square, and was a valuable tool of instilling pride in both the party and the nation.

In 1999, to celebrate the 50th anniversary, the government decreed (it  an do that here) that henceforth the entire country would get 7 days off instead of 3.  So, starting today, the country essentially closes down for the next 7 days.  We’re talking schools, factories, government offices, and many businesses.

What doesn’t close down, however is retail and travel industry.  In fact, one of the main purposes for this “Golden Week” as the government calls it is to get Chinese consumers to spend money.  It was instituted to stimulate the economy.  It’s a time for shopping and travelling, and a high percentage of China’s 1.3 billion people are on the roads, rails, and planes this week.

When it’s all over, the government newspapers (that’s all of them, by the way) will publish all the statistics on how much money was spent in various economic sectors.  Like so many other Chinese holidays (communist or not), it has morphed into a grand consumer spectacle.