Posts Tagged ‘Commercialization’

聖誕節快樂! Christmas in China

December 26, 2007

I am not in China anymore, so I this is not a first-hand observation, the impression I got on Christmas in China is thus a result from e-mails that I received the past days. Of course this post will be not objective because it is based on few opinions mentioned in the mails and my interpretations.

Christmas is a relatively new holiday in China, so in contrast to the well established Chinese holidays it has few tradition and has become popular just in the past years after the opening of China and the growing exchange with foreign countries. The main holiday in winter still is Chinese new year (spring festival) in February.

So it seems that rather the young people are celebrating Christmas, some students do have some days off, while others don’t have much holidays. They are waiting for the upcoming longer winter vacations to visit their parents of do traveling. I was told that nowadays many people celebrate Christmas – a student from Taiwan wrote me that she very much cares about this holiday, maybe even more than traditional holidays which makes herself in her eyes a “strange Taiwanese”.

Many students admit that the business people are doing a lot of decoration so without them there would be much less Christmas atmosphere and Christmas after all is a “sales event”, there is a “a thick color of commercialization” in Christmas. However, the “sales event” is not seen too bad by a few students, because in the end, it is more than justified that after one year of labor one can treat oneself and others with some gifts. Still, some students got the feeling that there is a lack of Christmas atmosphere, Chinese themselves feel that “Christmas with Chinese characteristics” is not the same as in Western countries and not as authentic.

One withes friends “marry Christmas” – or 圣诞节快乐 (Shengdanjie Kuaile) in Chinese, and exchanges some small gifts. I learned that apples are popular gifts between students who cannot effort to buy more expensive gifts or don’t see Christmas that important that it is necessary to buy luxurious gifts because it is not such an important holiday. The apples are sold because the Chinese word for apple “pingguo” sound like “ping’an” – at least the sound of the first syllable matches. “Ping’an” means peace or peaceful, and that is quite a good Christmas blessing.

Apple with the Chinese character 福 (good fortune; blessing; happiness)
Apple with the Chinese character 福 (good fortune; blessing; happiness)

Although there are a lot of elements of Western Christmas in Chinese Christmas, there are some differences: Most students just want to have a nice time, being with friends, maybe do some traveling, but most stay home or at their university.

At the end I want to wish all readers happy holidays and a happy and prosperous new year.