Although Christmas isn’t an official holiday in China, Chinese people perceive it as a day of entertainment and celebrate it with vigor.
This often occurs in major cities where people are influenced by the western culture.
As such, they celebrate this day with all the trappings of western Christmas but with a few differences here and there.
Here’s an overview of the Christmas cheer in China.
As Christmas approaches, the Chinese decorate their homes with twinkling lights and large Christmas trees locally known as the trees of light.
These decorations may also be found in malls, banks, school institutions, and tourist attraction areas like parks.
The Chinese people will also decorate their houses with posters, multi-colored LED lights, and bright paper chains.
Their Christmas trees are also adorned with beautiful lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains.
Some people also decorate their homes with manufactured trees that are seemingly covered in snow.
Major malls and department stores also install props of Santa Claus, also known as Shen Dan Lao Ren, translating to the old Christmas man.
This version of Santa Claus is often seen playing the saxophone. Every country has own customs and they wish Happy/Merry Christmas in their languages.
Some postmen also dress up as Santa when delivering letters during the festive season.
Christmas Eve Traditions
Gifting apples is a major tradition in China. The people deeply believe that eating apples on Christmas Eve will promote peace in their lives.
They will, therefore, award their friends and families with apples wrapped up in the decorated paper.
This belief is based on the fact that the word apple and peace in mandarin are phonetically similar.
The Chinese people also exchange gift cards on Christmas Eve, but people don’t have to wait for Christmas to open them like it is with western countries.
Kids also hang muslin stocking and hope that Shen Dan Lao Ren will leave them some gifts.
During Christmas, the churches hold services that are open for public attendance.
Some Chinese solemnly believe in attending the mass, but they are also followed by many non-believers who go to church for the fun of it.
People also attend western borrowed events including the special Christmas movie night and ugly Christmas sweater party.
Some people also tour Yiwu, which is referred to as the Christmas village due to the large amounts of holiday-related merchandise produced in this place.
The Chinese people also enjoy a variety of shows staged in Macau and Hong Kong during the Christmas season.
Christmas carols are sung in major cities, but most people don’t understand the story about the birth of Jesus.
Traditional Christmas Cuisines
Christmas in China also revolves around family meals.
However, instead of the traditional turkey consumed in western countries, the Chinese enjoy local traditional delicacies related to New Year.
These meals include bā bǎo yā; an entire duck stuffed with diced chicken, as well as Chinese rice and spices.
Some people also enjoy barbecued pork, cold ham, and jiaozi, as well as chicken and soup with wood ear fungus.
Some western meals also include roast beef, turkey and cranberry sauce, which are mostly found in both local and western restaurants.
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Main Points About Christmas in China
- Christmas is not a popular holiday in China because many Chinese do not celebrate Christmas at all.
- In China, on Christmas eve, people give out apples wrapped in colored paper.
- People who celebrate Christmas do it as a happy occasion. They get together with friends and relatives to hold Christmas parties at the house, bar, or restaurant.
- Young couples see the Chinese Christmas as a romantic time similar to Valentine’s day. They go on dates and exchange gifts.
- Although China, makes most of the world’s plastic Christmas trees and decorations, Christmas trees and decorations are not very popular, only in commercial areas like malls, and big hotels.
Christmas has over time gained massive popularity in China, and the number of people who celebrate this holiday is increasing by the day.
During this season, the Chinese decorate their homes, business complexes and supermarkets with western-based decorations.
The Chinese also attend the mass, exchange gifts, and enjoy Christmas meals with their families and friends.
Word Cloud for Christmas in China
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in China. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.