There are few Christians in China. However, Christmas traditions in China are not the same as in the United States for example. Christmas is not a religious holiday here. Instead, it is recognized as a new day rather than a public holiday as in the Western world.
With this in mind, we’ll take a look at some of the Christmas traditions in China and how unique they are. It is important to note that Christmas is mostly celebrated within mainland China where there are large displays of decorations and lighting on malls and other commercial buildings.
Let’s now explore the popular Christmas traditions in China.
Christmas is equivalent to Valentine’s Day in China
For the younger residents, the Christmas season is a time to spend with your significant other. They exchange gifts, go on romantic walks to enjoy beautiful decorations, or go on dates. In the western world, it is completely different because Christmas is the time when family and friends spend time together.
It is usual for couples to go out together to watch movies, have a karaoke night or do some shopping.
Eating an apple on Christmas Eve is one thing
The tradition of eating a “peace apple” on Christmas Eve. The apple of peace came as a result of the meaning of Christmas Eve in Mandarin. Translates to “ping’an ye”. In English, this means “quiet night”. Ironically, the Mandarin language of the apple is ‘ping gu’ which has a similar pronunciation to ‘pingan ye’. For this reason, locals have started saying that eating an apple on Christmas Eve brings with it a peaceful year, blessings and safety.
It is customary among young people to creatively and beautifully wrap peace apples in cellophane and give them to their friends. Apple Apples also usually have messages printed on them that say “love,” “happy birthday,” or “peace.”
Instead of elves, Santa has sisters
Everyone knows that Santa Claus has helpers. These helpers are usually called elves but in China, Santa Claus has sisters. Santa and his sisters live in the Chinese North Pole in a fairy tale in an arctic Christmas village.
If you visit a Chinese mall, you’ll see a Santa in service walking around with women dressed up as his helpers and following him around.
In China, Santa Claus plays the sax!
In Mandarin, Santa Claus is “Sheng Dan Lao Ren.” When translated into English, it literally means “Old Christmas Man”. A traditional Chinese Santa Claus playing the saxophone; A far cry from what we have here in the West. However, no one really knows why Santa is playing the saxophone, but he does and it is considered a normal thing there.
There is some speculation that because Christmas takes on such a romantic role and the saxophone is a sensual instrument, it was only appropriate for Santa Claus to play it as an instrument.
It is the Christmas capital of the world
China serves as a supplier of Christmas lights and decorations to the majority of the world. The city of Yiwu in Zhejiang Province is known as the Christmas capital of the world.
There are more than 500 factories within this city that specialize in making the famous “Christmas lights” as well as other traditional Christmas decorations. Need some pronto christmas trees? This is the place to be!
Some Chinese are against Christmas
Since China has a small Christian population of about 5% or roughly 68 million people, Christmas is not necessarily a widely accepted and celebrated holiday. In fact, many nationalists believe that Christmas is a threat to the customs and traditions of China and may even be a tool of imperialism against its people.
Although these views exist, more and more Chinese are accepting the season of Christmas and seeing it as an opportunity to spend time and enjoy with family and friends rather than recognizing it in the same way that Christians approach tradition. The religious message of Christmas.
It is also important to note that Christians within the Chinese community are not allowed to walk around singing Christmas carols or to pray openly in public.
Do you visit China during the very busy holiday/Christmas season? Well, if you’re in mainland China, you won’t feel left out feeling the “Christmas Spirit”.
Look out for the heavily decorated storefronts and streets lined with millions of shoppers or lovers going on a date. Christmas has not always been part of China’s tradition. But as the holiday has grown in popularity within the country, so has the interest of many in celebrating, or at least celebrating, Christmas.
Celebrating Christmas or not, the time of year still calls for gifts. Still time with your friends and family too.
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