Chinese Holidays — and using Wikipedia well

I’m planning to have my students correspond with students in China, and one of the students from China recently wrote me this email:

“We are having the 7days holidays from October1st to October7th. So I have plenty of time to get all the email replied!”

I wrote back, wondering why there is a seven-day holiday break in early October.

The student replied:

“Oh, it is for our National Day in China. We have 5 days off for the holiday. But they want us to share a longer vacation, so they switch the Sat and Sun for a holiday too. So 1week before(or after) the National holidays, we have to go to school on Sat and Sun, then, we could take a 7days holiday off.”

This got me curious, so I looked up “National Day China” and found that:

The National Day of the People’s Republic of China (simplified Chinese: 国庆节; traditional Chinese: 國慶節; pinyin: guóqìng jié) is celebrated every year on October 1. It is a public holiday in the People’s Republic of China to celebrate its national day.[2]

The PRC was founded on October 1, 1949 with a ceremony at Tiananmen Square. The Central People’s Government passed the Resolution on the National Day of the People’s Republic of China on December 2, 1949 and declared that October 1 is the National Day.[3]

The National Day marks the start of one of the two Golden Weeks in the PRC. However, there have been some recent controversies over whether Golden Weeks should be kept.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Day_of_the_People’s_Republic_of_China

In the next paragraphs of the Wikipedia article, it explained that:

The National Day is celebrated throughout mainland China, Hong Kong, and Macau with a variety of government-organised festivities, including fireworks and concerts. Public places, such as Tiananmen Square in Beijing, are decorated in a festive theme. Portraits of revered leaders, such as Mao Zedong, are publicly displayed.[4]

The University of Southern California U.S.-China Institute published a review of national day celebrations between 1949 and 1999 and discussed preparations for the 2009 extravaganza.[5] US-China Today summarized press coverage and included images of the 2009 celebration.[6]

I was interested to learn that USC has a US-China Institute (how many US universities have such an institute, I wonder?  How many Japanese universities have such an institute?), and I was intrigued by a study of 50 years of National Days (a term I’d not heard of before receiving an email from a student in China). 

I decided to use Wikipedia to lead me to more sources (you did know you can do that, right?  I mean, you would never, as an insatiably curious history student, just STOP with information from Wikipedia, would you?), so I clicked on the link to the USC study,

and it took me to the references section of the Wikipedia article: 


When I clicked on #5 above, it took me to the USC Study.

This is how to use Wikipedia to get to quality sources, such as a study from USC’s China Institute.  It’s amazing how many quality resources you can find by using Wikipedia.

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About Steve Goldberg

I teach U.S. History at Research Triangle High School, a public charter school in Durham, NC, whose mission is to incubate, prove and scale innovative models of teaching and learning.
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