What Christmas means to the Chinese

What Christmas means to the Chinese

Chinese Christmas

Like most of Britain, we’re getting very excited about our favourite time of year. But what about China? We thought you might like to find out exactly what Christmas means to the Chinese people and how it is celebrated, if at all…

Christmas is not a public holiday in China as most Chinese people are not Christian (only 1% officially) and there is not much Christian cultural influence. However, along the coast and in the big internationally-influenced cities, it has been steadily gaining popularity and has been a big commercial success.

On the mainland, Christmas is celebrated in large cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, where a large number of expats live and Western influence is greater. However, in smaller cities and in the countryside of China’s interior, Christmas is a foreign concept, especially for the older generations.

It is a two day public holiday in Hong Kong and Macau, due to the British and Portuguese influence. In Hong Kong, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are both official public holidays. In Macau, Christmas Eve is included as an official public holiday too.

Most Chinese people who celebrate Christmas do so as a happy occasion to get together with friends and family. In the major cities, Christmas trees, lights and decorations can be seen on the streets and in the department stores. Much like in Britain, you’ll hear Christmas music playing from the end of November. Christmas carols can be heard over the noise of the crowds shopping for the Christmas season sales and promotions.
A Chinese “Father Christmas” (圣诞老人 Shèngdàn Lǎorén /shnng-dan laoww-rnn/) helps complete the scene.

You’ll see many of the same decorations as we see in the UK: Christmas wreaths, Merry Christmas banners, colourful lights, and ornaments and baubles. Global trade means that many of the decorations bought in the West now originate from China anyway!

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