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Internet Poll on changing China’s strange public holiday system

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While much of the world looks forward to official holidays that can be predicted years in advance, China’s annual muddle over the coming year’s holiday schedule has long been a reliable source of confusion. But yesterday the Holiday Office published three potential replacement schedules for public input “to make the official holiday schedule planning of our country more scientific and rational.” Sina has put up a poll about it.

Perhaps unique to mainland China is the practice of stealing a day off from a neighboring weekend if necessary to ensure a full three-day vacation. Among the three new options, however, the most popular so far retains the weekend-swapping ways of the current setup, perhaps because it is also the only proposal to grant seven full days off to both the Spring Festival and National Day holidays.

Those dismayed by the current results can take heart in the fact that the only option that would end almost all weekend swaps is currently in second place, only 4,000 or so votes behind. Below is a translation Sina’s poll number of votes for each as of yesterday evening.

How would you change the official holiday schedule?
In accordance with The National Method for Scheduling Days Off for New Years and Memorial Holidays, to make the official holiday schedule planning of our country more scientific and rational, with opinions raised from every aspect of society having been collected in a previous questionnaire survey, three adjusted holiday schedule proposals have been put forward for publication to solicit opinions. Participation is welcome.

1. Which of the following holiday schedule proposals would you choose?

Proposal A: Spring Festival holiday of 3 days, borrowing a day off from the neighboring Saturday, with Sunday becoming a seventh day of the long holiday. National Day holiday of 3 days, with no changes to other days off, and the vacation period being set as Oct 1 to 3, to be shifted to later date if it falls on a weekend. New Year’s Day, Tomb Sweeping Day, International Labor Day (May Day), Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival all get one day off, with no changes to other days off–only those days will be off, with the following Monday off should they fall on a weekend. (11,144 votes)

Proposal B: Spring Festival holiday of 3 days, borrowing a day off from the neighboring Saturday, with Sunday becoming a seventh day off. National Day holiday of 3 days, borrowing a day off from the neighboring Saturday, with Sunday becoming the fifth day of the long holiday, and the vacation period being set as Oct 1 to 5. New Year’s Day, Tomb Sweeping Day, International Labor Day (May Day), Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival all get one day off, with no adjustments to other days off if one of these holidays falls on a Wednesday–only those days will be off. If one falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, a day off will be borrowed from the neighboring Saturday [and used on Monday], with Sunday becoming the third day of the short long holiday. If one falls on a Saturday, the following Monday will be off. (5,381 votes)

Proposal C: Spring Festival holiday of 3 days, borrowing a day off from the neighboring Saturday, with Sunday becoming a seventh day off. National Day holiday of three days, borrowing a day off from the neighboring Saturday, with Sunday becoming the seventh day of the long holiday, and the vacation period being set as Oct 1-7. New Year’s Day, Tomb Sweeping Day, International Labor Day (May Day), Dragon Boat Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival all get one day off, with no changes to other days off if one of these holidays falls on a Wednesday–only those days will be off. If one falls on a Tuesday or Thursday, a day off will be borrowed from the neighboring Saturday [and used on Monday], with Sunday becoming the third day of the short long holiday. If one falls on a Saturday, the following Monday will be off. (15,162 votes)

2. How old are you?
Under 20 (754 respondents)
Between 20 and 40 (22,026 respondents)
Between 40 and 60 (8,353 respondents)
Over 60 (554 respondents)

3.Occupation
Enterprise staff (19,865 respondents)
Party or government organ civil servant (3,419 respondents)
Self-employed in industry/commerce (1,347 respondents)
Peasant (193 respondents)
Retired worker (618 respondents)
Student (2,690 respondents)
Unemployed (317 respondents)
Other (3,238 respondents)

Update: Earlier this week, Beijing Youth Daily reported on abnormalities with Sohu.com’s hosted version of the poll after 60,000 votes disappeared from its tally in the early morning on November 28.

The article raised the possibility of double voting by some netizens, and an unnamed Sohu representative was quoted as saying users couldn’t vote more than “once per 20 minutes”. In a sidebar interview, the leader of the Holiday System Reform Task Force Cai Jiming criticized the online poll for lax standards and for not taking into account the opinions of those who don’t often use the internet.

But soon thereafter, the apparent support of over half of online respondents for “option C“ (7 days off for both Spring Festival and Golden Week) was seemingly corroborated by the similar results of an offline poll of 762 people across 12 provinces conducted by the People’s Daily Network, as reported by Legal Evening News. Despite a massive outpouring of votes and public interest, it is unlikely that any of this will actually have any effect on next year’s holiday schedule.

Links and sources
Original poll
Current results
Detailed description and hypothetical calendars for the three proposed schedules

This tranlsation is by Danwei contributor Hudson C. Lockett IV, a Beijing-based freelance writer and photographer. Follow him on Twitter here.

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