This blog post is a special addition for Christmas 2015, following on from the video which has been jointly produced by Natalia from Translate Your Business and Bridget from Your Bridge to China. We hope you enjoy it. You will find the video below.
Christmas in China
It is quite interesting to look at Chinese Christmas traditions and how they have adopted Christmas from the West and put their own slant on it. When I lived in Beijing, I spent Christmas in a bar accompanied by a large teddy bear! Also, the newsagents at the bottom of the high-rise we lived in displayed cardboard cut-outs of Santa Claus… all year round!
So is Christmas really celebrated in China?
Approximately 1% (14 million people, which is the population of Poland) of Chinese people are Christians so Christmas is only celebrated in the major cities and within expat communities in Shanghai and Beijing. The further West of China you go, the less Christmas is celebrated. (Source: China Highlights)
In terms of specific Christmas traditions, there are a few. A tradition on Christmas Eve is giving apples wrapped in cellophane, sometimes with holiday messages like “Merry Xmas” printed on them. In the Chinese language, the word for Christmas Eve is ‘Ping (2) An(1) Ye(4)’ 平安夜. The reason apples are a special gift is that the word for apple in Chinese is ‘Ping(2) Guo(3)’ 苹果 sounds similar to the word for Christmas Eve. (See picture here)
In China, Christmas has become very commercialized and, believe it or not, Santa Claus is often shown playing the saxophone! Other instruments he is seen playing, on billboards and the like, are trumpets and French horns.
Only a few people have a Christmas Tree in their houses or flats. The people who do usually have a plastic one which might be decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Christmas trees are sometimes referred to as the “Tree of Light”. Shopping malls are generally highly populated with plastic Christmas trees! Read below for a few more interesting facts about Christmas in China.
Interesting Chinese Christmas Facts
1. Most of the world’s plastic Christmas trees are made in the Pearl River delta area of China, but the Chinese making them might not know what they are used for.
2. Christmas day is a public holiday in Hong Kong and Macau but not in mainland China.
3. In China, “Elves” have got lost in translation and instead can be known as Santa’s sisters.
4. Christmas day is a time for going out with friends, not so much about staying in with family.
5. In China, Santa Claus is often shown playing the saxophone.
So all that’s left to say now is Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Sites used to support this blog: