In the recent years, Christmas has gained a wide popularity throughout the mainland China. In the cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, Taiwan, Hong Kong and several others, Christmas is seen through a commercial perspective with a newly adopted festive tradition rather than a religious festival. Unlike the rest of the western world Chinese people do not celebrate Christmas with great spiritual fervour in comparison to Chinese New Year.Indeed in the North Eastern rural and minority provinces Western and Christian influence are negligible.
Rather than the religious aspect, the commercial aspect of the Christmas has recently become the true major annual event in the major cities in China. On the streets, department stores and markets one can witness typical Chinese decorations as well as Western styled decorations like plastic made Christmas trees, artificial Christmas candle lights, and other western style decorations. Even certain local Christmas markets like Christmas Commune Market, TEK Shanghai Open Market, NAIS German Pudong Christmas markets are also held during this time in different regions of the major cities. These markets often deal in electronics, clothing accessories, books, delicacies, LED lights and many other things. Often in this hustle bustle of shopping and commodities promotion, one can hear Christmas music playing in each corner of the markets and streets from the end of November. Majority of the Chinese people celebrate Christmas just as a jubilant, happy, festive occasion for get-together with gfriends, kinsmen and couples. Christmas parties are held either at a friend’s house or McDonald’s or a karaoke cafe or in a restaurant or in a bar. There is a festive and jubilant atmosphere and most of the Chinese people enjoy the decorations and unusual western Christmas songs and music. The younger generation of China observe itrather as a romantic holidayand most of the couples go on adate or exchange gifts between themselves.
For the Chinese Christian community, which only comprises 1% of the total population of China officially, generally celebrate Christmas theologically, sometimes more than the West. But for most of the Chinese people theydo not even realize that Christmas commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ. They do not attach any religious significance to any of the foreign festivities.But often there are also a majority of Chinese Christians who celebrate Christmas as the top event of the year, outranking even Chinese New Year, preparing songs and activities weeks before. On Christmas Eve, 24th December, in China there is a tradition of giving apples to family and friends wrapped in coloured paper along with candies and chocolates. On that day there are also special choral performances and the congregation also held traditional dance and drama performances. It is called Peaceful Evening or Ping’an Ye. Even Chinese Christmas carols like Women Zhu Ni, Dingding Dang, ShangdanKuaile and several others are sung. But Carol singing in the streets is rarely seen in China, though it’s popular in Christian households. In China karaoke machine is far more popular.
Foreign tourists may appreciate the celebrations in most major cities like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Macau, and several others. As during Christmas, it is a low season so one may get anything at a low affordable price. Even many of the larger renowned hotels and some Western restaurants also offer specialized Christmas dinner.Foreigners residing from other countries and cultures in China celebrate Christmas by decorating their homes and so by doing that they try to generate an atmosphere as much like at home as possible. Many foreigners from Western countries, who resides in China for some commercial or academic purposes, feel homesick at this time of year. Purchase of trappings for Christmas is becoming increasingly popular in China, especially in the major cities like Hong Kong, Taiwan or Beijing, where big malls sell wrapping paper, cards and several other accessories . Even there one can find certain import stores for Christmas ingredients. Online shopping is another cheapest way to get a Christmas tree or decorations or even a turkey delivered to your door. Expats hold Christmas parties in their homes. A Christmas dinner along with the whole of the family is significant in China. In major city like Hong Kong, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are both official public holidays.Christmas time is chiefly known for shopping for post-holiday sales; and for employers it is a time for them to give gifts to their employees.
Hong Kong is one of the best places in the world to go for a festive Christmas atmosphere, with its two-day public holidays. This city is also known for its fantastic Christmas displays, fine food, and Christmas shopping.In Beijing, the festival is usually celebrated with keen interest and enthusiasm by some of Beijing’s younger generation. However in Beijing, it is usually celebrated as a happy occasion for social get-togethers and for giving presents and gifts. However, most people in Beijing work on Christmas day unless it falls on weekends. Christmas in Beijing is mainly commercial; it is a busy shopping season in Beijing. Even some of the major renowned hotels in Beijing serve special Christmas dinners, and people are also reminded of the original spiritual meaning of Christmas at special churches in Beijing. In Shanghai most shops in the downtown area decorate their shops to attract visitors in the holiday period. Christmas carols are heard everywhere. In Guangzhou, especially the young people have Christmas parties, go shopping, and enjoy Christmas dinner. In Taiwan, the festival is generally celebrated with more enthusiasm and fervour than in Mainland China, but less than in Hong Kong and Macau.Christmas is an unofficial holiday in Taiwan, but is celebrated with jubilance and spirit, only because it coincides with Constitution Day, the anniversary of the signing of Taiwan’s constitution in 1947. While the 5% Taiwanese Christian population commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ in special churches and homes across the island, the majority of the Taiwanese population enjoy the decorations and displays in shops, malls and stores. In Macau 24 and 25 December are public holidays.
As the Christian population is much less in China, Christmas is not celebrated with so much spiritual vigour and festive spirit like that of Europe or Americas; rather it is just seen as a season for shopping, get together and parties.