Holidays Around the World Part 1: China, UAE and Brazil

In business, timing is everything – and before you go abroad, it’s important to learn what other countries consider an appropriate and respectful time of year to schedule your plans. With the U.S.’ holiday season in full-swing, we thought we’d take a look at some popular international business destinations and the major holidays they celebrate that could affect your future business travel preparations:


China – According to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), China is expected to surpass the U.S. as the world’s most dominant business travel market as early as 2016. If you’re one of the many professionals taking a trip to China, keep the country’s official holiday calendar in mind before you book:

  • What: Chinese New Year/ When: February 18th – 24th Chinese New Year, also known as the Spring Festival or the Lunar New Year, is the most important and longest of all Chinese festivals. Chinese New Year is a public holiday in China; government offices and most businesses close for three days in accordance with law. Immediately following the legal observance, many regions continue to honor the New Year with five additional common local holidays.
  • What: Qingming/ When: April 5th – A day dedicated to paying respect to family ancestors, Qingming also represents a celebration for the arrival of spring. It’s good to bear in mind that roads can be heavily congested and public transportation can be crowded during the festival.
  • What: Labor Day/ When: May 1st-3rd International Labor Day falls on May 1st and depending on which day of the week it falls, workers might get an “extension” for additional time off. The holiday typically translates to millions of Chinese citizens traveling domestically and internationally. Travel fares can double (and even triple!) so advance bookings must be made weeks, even months ahead – keep this in mind if you absolutely must travel to China during this time.
  • What: Dragon Boat Festival/ When: June 20th-22ndFalling on the 5th day of the 5th month according to the Chinese lunar calendar, this Festival is a public holiday that commemorates the life and death of the famous Chinese scholar, Qu Yuan. The top cities the Festival is celebrated are Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Foshan, Yueyang, and Beijing.
  • What: Mid-Autumn Festival/ When: September 27th – Also called the Chinese Moon Festival, this is one of the most important annual festivals for the Chinese people and is an official holiday (workers are typically given the day off). This lively festival takes place on the 15th day of the 8th Chinese lunar month every year, so its exact date by the Western calendar differs each year.
  • What: National Day/ When: October 1st-3rd – The legal holiday for National Day is currently three days in mainland China, two days in Macau and one day in Hong Kong. In mainland China, the three-day holiday is usually connected with the weekends before and after (hence folks can enjoy a seven-day holiday from Oct. 1st to 7th, otherwise well-known “Golden Week”). This is the longest public holiday in China besides the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival holiday. The Golden Week is an extremely busy tourism and travel time in China, so try to avoid scheduling your trip on these dates if possible.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) – According to the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (ADTCA), the business travel market to the UAE is expected to double in value by 2020, reaching nearly $1.4 billion – so chances are, you just may find yourself there within the next few years. Here is a round-up of the national UAE holidays so you can keep these dates in mind for 2015:

  • What: Birthday of Prophet Muhammad (‘Mawlid’)/ When: January 3rd (date varies year to year)Mawlid is celebrated by Muslims during the month of Rabiulawal (the third month of the Muslim calendar). Shias observe the event on the 17th of the month, while Sunnis observe it on the 12th of the month. As the Islamic calendar is based on lunar cycles, the date in the Gregorian calendar varies each year (which is why in 2015, the holiday falls on January 3rd on our calendar). Mawlid is observed as a national holiday, so many businesses, schools, and government offices are closed for at least part of, if not the full, day.
  • What: Israa & Miaraj Night/ When: May 16th – Known as The Prophet’s Ascension or the Night Journey, this holiday is observed on the 27th day of Rajab, the seventh month in the Islamic calendar.
  • What: Eid-al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)/ When: July 18th Eid-al-Fitr is the first day of the Islamic month of Shawwal and marks the end of Ramadan. Government offices and most businesses are closed in observance of the holiday.
  • What: Arafat (Haj) Day & Eid al Adha/ When: September 23rd and 24th– Muslims commemorate the second day of the Hajj pilgrimage and the day before Eid al Adha (another national holiday the entire country observes) with religious rituals.
  • What: Al-Hijra (Islamic New Year)/ When: October 15thThe Islamic New Year is on the first day of Muharram, the first month in the lunar Islamic calendar.
  • What: UAE National Day/ When: December 2nd National Day marks the unification of the seven emirates and the founding of the country in 1971.

Brazil – Ranked by GBTA as the eighth largest business travel market in the world, Brazil offers popular business travel hot spots such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. If you’re wondering about the best time of year to book a trip to Brazil, take a look at the key holidays the majority of the country observes:

  • What: Carnival/ When: February (February 21st is the official start of the holiday, though the whole week is affected by the celebration) – Although Carnival (the country’s most popular festival) is celebrated in most towns and villages throughout Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is considered the Carnival capital of the world. Carnival is celebrated for three days before Ash Wednesday and attracts thousands of tourists every year –which means navigating through Rio for a client meeting may be a little difficult during that time!
  • What: Tiradentes/ When: April 21stTiradentes, a national hero, is commemorated on the date he was executed in 1792 for leading a conspiracy to break Brazil free from Portuguese rule. If the holiday falls on a Thursday or Tuesday, school children and college students are free on Friday or Monday and work breaks are often negotiated.
  • What: Labor Day/ When: May 1st – Brazil is one of the countries that commemorate International Workers’ Day, honoring the worker’s rights efforts which culminated in the 1886 Haymarket Square Riot.
  • What: Independence Day/ When: September 7th – Brazil’s Independence Day is celebrated with a great parade in Brasília. If the holiday falls on a Friday, expect many locals to take extended time off for a long weekend.
  • What: Our Lady Aparecida/ When: October 12th Our Lady of Aparecida is a National Holiday celebrated by hundreds of thousands of Catholic devotees with a pilgrimage to the country’s National Sanctuary in Aparecida do Norte.
  • What: All Souls Day/ When: November 2nd – Another holiday when most businesses are closed, All Souls Day is observed in Brazil as a time to honor the dead. Many locals use this time as an opportunity to take a vacation and spend time with their families.
  • What: Republic Proclamation Day/ When: November 15th – This national holiday is honored with special parades and other governmental and military events and is usually the last extended holiday before the school year wraps up in early December.

Safe Travels & Happy Holidays!