Our family has embarked on virtual travels to various countries and regions. To explore these countries and their cultures, we have followed along with the festivals, cooked and eaten traditional foods, learned of traditional handicrafts with hands on exploration, along with many activities to immerse ourselves. Chronicled here are some of these activities.

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas in China

Happy Holidays from Hong Kong
Photo Credit: Richard Cheung
With the exception of Hong Kong and Macau (being until the late 1990s colonized by Britain and Portugal respectively), I was thoroughly surprised to read about how much Christmas is celebrated in China. 

Wooden hearts with written wishes are hanging from a downtown Christmas tree in Fuzhou city.
Photo Credit: Caro Spark
Since the 1990's, a more commercialized version of Christmas has sprouted in China and has grown since. Christmas is less known in rural areas of China, however in major urban centers, many Chinese get into the spirit, especially among the younger generations. Though not a public holiday, from November onward, major cities are very festively decorated with Christmas displays found in shopping centers, banks and restaurants. Christmas trees abound, especially near shopping centers and hotels, though it is uncommon to have one in your home.

Christmas tree in Beijing
Photo Credit: Shi Zhao
Santa is known as "Sheng dan lao ren" which means Old Man Christmas. He is found at department stores, often with his sisters - young ladies, dressed in festive red attire to help him. He is also often represented with an instrument, especially the saxophone. 

Santas lined up as part of a display in Shanghai
Photo Credit: Dan Zelazo

Giving colorfully wrapped apples is a (new) tradition in China for Christmas. The word "apple" in Mandarin sounds like the words for Christmas Eve:Ping An Ye which means "quiet night". I don't think the girls will be surprised to find a cellophane wrapped apple in each of their stockings :)

These girls are selling Christmas apples
Photo Credit: Ming Xia
Christmas day is celebrated by going out with friends and family as a lighthearted day. Going to a movie, shopping and ice skating are popular activities.

This photograph of a Santa Claus kite was taken on Christmas day (2008)
Will you be flying your kite this Christmas?
Photo Credit: Lianqing Li
Although Christmas is a fairly commercial celebration in China, almost five percent of Chinese are Christian, and attending Christmas eve mass has become more popular and less restricted over recent years.

Varya at Creative World of Varya explores the Christmas spirit where she lives in Guangdong, China as part of a great series exploring how Christmas is celebrated in various countries and cultures around the world: Christmas in Different Lands.

Merry Christmas everyone! Shengdan jie kuaile!


  1. Thanks for this, I was hoping you'd tell us about Christmas in China and I wasn't disappointed! It's so interesting hearing how holidays are celebrated in different cultures. I love the saxophone-playing Santas!

    I found time to listen to Wonder this month - thank you so much for the recommendation, I loved it! I will definitely be listening again with the children, they will get so much from it I think as well as enjoying the wonderful collection of characters.

    Happy Christmas week!

    1. I love learning about how Christmas is celebrated in different cultures! And oh so surprised there was so much of it in China :)

      So glad you enjoyed Wonder - I've decided :) it's in my top five favorite children's books, and loved sharing it with the girls who did take so much from it.

      A belated Happy Christmas week to you and a Happy New Year!

  2. Happy, happy New Year, Marie!!
    I hope 2014 is everything you wish it to be and much, much more. I look forward to all your posts (hint, hint!) this year.....!


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