Living in Shenzhen over the last few years I’ve seen a lot change, not as much as some of my friends that have been here longer, but still at lot of change in such a short time. The one thing that’s interesting is the change that happened during the holidays in Shenzhen, China. I thought about this as this past week China celebrated its national holiday and mid-autumn festival and I have been in Shenzhen to see it. This meant that there is a week of no work.
While I have usually take this time to travel in Asia (but outside of China) during Chinese holidays, I have stayed in Shenzhen for a few. With Shenzhen being a city of immigrants from all over China and most holidays having to do with Families people tended to go home for the holiday. What this meant is if you stayed in Shenzhen in the past for a holiday you ended up being one of the “few” people here. It was remarkable to see how a city that’s usually so busy can be so empty during a holiday. All the small shops are closed and there are few people everywhere you go. This was the cast when I first got to Shenzhen.
I want to back track a little and explain holidays in China. In the last few years China has split up its national holidays to more like the west, with more weekend long holidays rather then the two long holidays it had. In the past the “October holiday” was a big celebration and then the Chinese New year being the biggest. I say “October holiday” because it consisted of the mid-autumn festival and the national day. The day of the mid-autumn festival changes because if follows the lunar calendar while the national day is always Oct 1. With the changes to create more long weekends rather then two week long holidays in China this has caused these two holidays to usually be two holidays in stead of the one in the past, I won’t go into more details here, but just know that this year its different then the past two since the holidays are close together creating a long stretch that people don’t need to go to work. Although there are other holidays now Chinese New year is still the “most important” with the mid-autumn festival being the next and the days off reflect that.
So back to Shenzhen, during these two major holidays the city became sort of a ghost town as everyone left for their home town. This doesn’t seem to be the case this week. Wherever I go there are people and all the store are open and full. Its still not as crowded as on a normal weekend, but its impressive compared to other times I’ve been in Shenzhen. More and more people are calling Shenzhen home and more and more people have their relatives and friends visit them rather then going back home. I also find the the people I talked to now would say they are from Shenzhen rather then their home town and if you get into a conversation of how long they have been in Shenzhen its 5 or 10 years rather then just a few years when I got here.
I find it normal based on my experience. When I moved from Canada to the US we use to make trip back to Canada for Christmas every year, but after a few years it just didn’t seem something that was needed as you had new friends that you spent time with. Its interesting to see the same thing happening in Shenzhen, with more people staying here for holidays rather then going to their home town.