Christmas in China has gotten big this last decade. Chinese schools, especially those that employ foreigners, enjoy Christmas holidays. All shopping malls, parks and public venues in major cities get as festive as New York City. There are also many events for both Chinese locals and foreigners to attend.
I celebrated my first Christmas in China in Huaqiao, an economic development zone just outside of Shanghai. The event was hosted by the government and all foreigners in town were invited.
They served a fusion buffet of Chinese and Western food. I had sushi and chocolate cake on the same plate! They served Western wine, Chinese beer and there were even a few cocktails.
The main event of the party was choreographed performances and everyone there knew the popular Western Christmas songs. There were also traditional Chinese performances to teach us a bit about the local culture.
There were also a lot of typical Chinese celebratory aspects as well. Red envelopes were given out generously. Audience members were bribed with cute stuffed toys to preform Christmas song karaoke on stage. Everyone took videos and photos for WeChat and we all had a blast.
Chinese Spin on Things
“In Chinese Happy/Merry Christmas is ‘Sheng Dan Kuai Le or 圣诞快乐’ in Mandarin and ‘Seng Dan Fai Lok or 聖誕快樂’ in Cantonese.”Why Christmas
Parties like the one I described are becoming increasingly popular. However, Christmas in China is a little different. Most of the West’s Christmas decorations are ‘made in China’. Ironically, Chinese homes are decorated a little differently.
“Only a few people have a Christmas Tree. If people do have a tree it is normally a plastic one and might be decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns (they might also call it a tree of light). The Christmas Trees that most people would see would be in shopping malls.”Why Christmas
Although Christmas is not originally Chinese, the locals have incorporated their own traditions. Apples are a popular Christmas Eve gift. Vendors sell apples in colorful paper. The tradition started because the Chinese name for Christmas Eve is “Ping’an Ye” (平安夜). This means peaceful and has been translated from the Silent Night carol.
You can read more about Christmas traditions from all over the world on The Travel Bug Bite.