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China sets first 8-day holiday for next year

Workers across China will enjoy a supersized break in October under the 2009 holiday schedule announced on Wednesday by the State Council.


National Day, which falls on October 1, and the Mid-Autumn Festival, which begins on October 3, will be combined into China's first eight-day holiday since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.


As usual under the country's quirky holiday scheduling, people will have to work the weekend before the holiday to enjoy the megabreak.


The rest of the schedule will be roughly the same as it was this year when one of the "Golden Weeks" was scrapped and several new holidays were added.


The 2009 New Year holiday will be run from January 1 to 3. The Spring Festival, the country's most important holiday, will stretch from January 25 to January 31, also with two days "borrowed" from working the previous weekend.


The Qingming Festival, or tomb-sweeping day, is from April 4 to 6, Labor Day from May 1 to 3, and the Dragon Boat Festival from May 28 to May 30.


Labor Day was shortened from a one-week holiday to three days this year so the Qingming, Dragon Boat and Mid-Autumn festivals could be added to the calendar.


The government also moved the Spring Festival one day forward to ensure families could be together for Lunar New Year's Eve, the most important meal on the calendar.


China hoped the holiday reforms would help enhance the country's traditional culture and ease overcrowding on transport during the Golden Weeks.


The week-long breaks for Labor Day, National Day and the Spring Festival began in 1999 to spur travel and boost spending. But complaints about overcrowding, poor service, a scarcity of hotel rooms and damage to scenic spots spurred concern over the merits of the week-long breaks.


(Shanghai Daily December 11, 2008)