Chinese Language Blog

National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival Posted by on Oct 3, 2017 in Culture

This is a big week in China, as the country celebrates two of its most important holidays. Millions upon millions of people are traveling to enjoy this Golden Week (黄金周 – huáng jīn zhōu). This year it’s extra special, as both National Day (国庆节 – guó qìng jié) and Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節 – zhōng qiū jié) are happening in the same week. Let’s learn a bit more about these two traditional Chinese holidays.

National Day

National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival

Tiananmen Square

China celebrates its National Day on October 1st. This year marks the 68th anniversary of the founding of the modern day People’s Republic of China by Mao Zedong in 1949. Believe it or not, you can actually watch this historic occasion on YouTube:

In that famous address given in Tiananmen Square, it’s said that Mao proclaimed:

zhōng guó rén mín zhàn qǐ lái le
The Chinese people have stood up.

It was a great slogan for the Communist Party as they sought to unify the country. They had stood up to the Japanese invaders, to the Kuomintang, and to meddling westerners. There’s just one little problem with that slogan, though – apparently Mao never really said it.

Whether or not he actually said that back in 1949, National Day is still celebrate with patriotic fervor each and every October 1st. A huge crowd of people converges on Tiananmen to watch the flag-raising ceremony at sunrise.

Show your real patriotism by learning the Chinese national anthem, called  “March of the Volunteers” (义勇军进行曲 – yì yǒng jūn jìn xíng qǔ):




Qǐ lái! Bú yuàn zuò nú lì de rén men!
Bǎ wǒ men de xuè ròu,
     zhù chéng wǒ men xīn de cháng chéng!
Zhōng huá mín zú dào liǎo zuì wēi xiǎn de shí hòu.
Měi ge rén bèi pò zhe fā chū zuì hòu de hǒu shēng.
Qǐ lái! Q ǐlái! Qǐ lái!
Wǒ men wàn zhòng yì xīn,
Mào zhe dí rén de pào huǒ, qián jìn!
Mào zhe dí rén de pào huǒ, qián jìn!
Qián jìn! Qián jìn! Jìn!


Arise, we who refuse to be slaves;
With our very flesh and blood
     let us build our new Great Wall!
The peoples of China are at their most critical time,
Everybody must roar defiance.
Arise! Arise! Arise!
Millions of people become one,
Braving the enemy’s gunfire, March on!
Braving the enemy’s gunfire, March on!
March on! March on, on!


All across the country, there have been several other impressive displays of patriotism, from school children to farmers:

Now that National Day has come and gone, it’s time to get ready for another important Chinese holiday.

Mid-Autumn Festival

Photo from Avery on

This traditional holiday falls on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month, on a bright full moon. Similar to Thanksgiving, this harvest festival is all about gathering with family members for a feast and to enjoy the beautiful full moon. If one cannot make it home for the holiday, they can gaze up at the moon and think of their loved ones.

When it comes to the Mid-Autumn Festival feast, the most important thing on the table are the delicious moon cakes (月饼 – yuè bǐng). Moon cakes come in all different flavors, shapes, and sizes. Learn all about them in this short video:

There are a few interesting legends about the history of the festival and the lunar pastries. Check out our previous post on Mid-Autumn Festival to learn more.

Since you learned the national anthem for one holiday, why not learn a traditional Chinese poem for this one? It’s called “Thinking on a Quiet Night” (静夜思 – jìng yè sī) by Li Bai (李白):

床 前 明 月 光chuáng qián míng yuè guāngMoonlight shining through the window
疑 是 地 上 霜yí shì dì shàng shuāngMakes me wonder if there is frost on the ground
举 头 望 明 月jǔ tóu wàng míng yuèLooking up to see the moon
低 头 思 故 乡dī tóu sī gù xiāngLooking down I miss my hometown

You can even follow along and practice it with this super silly video:

Have you celebrated either of these holidays in China? What was your experience like? Leave a comment below!


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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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