As many of you may know, International Workers’ Day (1st May) is fast approaching. What does it mean for people in China?
There is a three-day national holiday, which runs from 1st May – 3rd May. It’s the time of the year for all government agencies and social groups to show their appreciation for work units and workers. However, it is also a great chance to grab a bargain, as most of shopping centres offer large discounts as they try to attract the busy holiday trade, so be sure not to miss out on the chance of some cut-price deals!
Owing to the fact that workers in China don’t get as many paid holidays as people in the West, we always ensure that we use these three days to the full – by spending the time with friends and family or taking a short trip, for example. It is also commonplace to send greetings during this time, so don’t be surprised if a well-wisher sends you a blessing by text to welcome in the holiday!
We call International Workers’ Day Láo Dòng Jié (劳动节) in Chinese. We can understand more of meaning behind each of the words by dissecting the individual parts. Láo 劳, tough life, is written as 勞 in traditional Chinese. Two huǒ 火 radicals denote fire on top, and lì 力 on the bottom signifies strength. Our ancestors used fire to cook food, which is why ‘fire’ is used as a component. What is more, in order to live a better life we have to work hard, which takes a great deal of strength and energy, so this explains the presence of these components.
The following character is dòng 动, movement, 動 in traditional Chinese. There are many radicals in our language – some represent sound, whereas others convey a vivid image. 重, zhòng is similar to dòng, meaning heavy, while 力 is strength as mentioned above. The last character is Jié 节, which means festival. Overall, the main significance of International Workers’ Day in China is hard work. If you are a Chinese-learning enthusiast, I highly recommend that you learn some traditional Chinese characters. They are made up of a wealth of interesting stories and knowledge of them really does make it easier to understand both Chinese culture and language.
Wishing you all a happy holiday!