Youth Day in China

Celebrated annually on May 4th in China, Youth Day is a special holiday that celebrates youths between the ages of 14 and 28. It’s a celebration of the May Fourth Movement, which was a direct response to the Treaty of Versailles. In the People’s Republic of China, this holiday is considered a patriotic movement that did away with old traditions and helped pave the way for the creation of a “new China.”

Today, this holiday is observed all over China with various activities and events. These include not only concerts and speeches but also cultural performances. It’s also a day when many schools and universities hold special events.

The History of Youth Day in China

On May 4th, 1919, the May Fourth Movement began as a disgruntled response to the Treaty of Versailles. Under this treaty, several Chinese territories that were occupied by Germany were turned over to Japan instead of being returned to China. This outraged many Chinese intellectuals and students, who saw it as a betrayal of their national interests.

Thousands of students attended demonstrations across China. During the 1920s, the Beiyang government prohibited marches and rallies commemorating the May Fourth Movement in Tianjin and Beijing, and that is when celebrations for the May Fourth Movement were moved to Shanghai and Nanjing.

The 1920s also saw the May Ninth National Humiliation and the May Third Incident. This was when anti-Japanese sentiment began to seep into many of this holiday’s observances. Eventually, the rallies and protests became a central symbol of Chinese resistance against the Japanese.

The 20th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement took place in 1939, and the Shaan-Gan-Ning Border Region Youth National Aid Association decided to make May 4th Youth Day of China. The 4th of May was also designated as Youth Day by the Republic of China government, as did the KMT government.

The holiday was briefly moved to March 29th during the early 1940s by the KMT government to commemorate the Yellow Flower Mound Uprising, and the 4th of May was turned into Literary Day. However, many Chinese youths continued to observe Youth Day on May 4th.

After WWII, May 4th was officially made a public holiday. Although everyone was given the day off for this holiday, it was mainly observed by people between the ages of 14 and 28. The 4th of May has been celebrated as Youth Day ever since. However, it’s not observed in Taiwan, where they still observe the 4th of May as Literary Day.

Observing Youth Day in China

There are so many observances on this holiday that it’s almost impossible to note them all, but we will list some basic Youth Day observances in China. There are music, dance, drama performances, and poetry recitations on this holiday. There are also seminars, workshops, sports competitions, and youth awards and honors given out on this day.

Where is it celebrated?
China (Observance)
When is it?
This year (2024)
May 4 Saturday
Next year (2025)
May 4 Sunday
Last year (2023)
May 4 Thursday