Christmas in China

Christmas in China

With the proceeding of globalization and deepening of cultural exchange, Christmas Day as a representative of western culture has become increasingly popular with Chinese people, but Christmas in China has an essential difference. It is regarded as a way to relax among young people and has become a great commercial success. A lot of Chinese would like to go to church to experience a real Christmas Day.

6 Fantastic Facts You Might Not Know about Christmas in China

Christmas celebrations have become extremely prevalent, and related businesses are flourishing, although China is not a religious country. The Christmas custom in China has not existed for a very long time, but just like when another custom is absorbed in foreign countries, Christmas in China has developed its own characteristics.

1. Christmas in China is not specifically religious.

 Bling up shop windows at Christmas

Bling up shop windows at Christmas

Christmas in China is not related to religion, and combines with carnival and Valentine’s Day. Chinese people treat it as a new way for entertainment, and the streets and shops are full of decorated Christmas trees, Santa Claus, and reindeer dolls. It is a popular way to go shopping, to karaoke, or cinema and dinner together. Young couples take this chance to express their romance for each other. Merchants also heavily promote a great variety of romantic products for couples.

2. There is a “Christmas village” in China.

Located in Mohe countryside, Beiji Village is the first Christmas theme park in China, which is a perfect example of China Arctic resourcefulness with Christmas Day. It is the northernmost village in China, and just one place to observe the Northern Lights. Driving a sledge through a vast expanse of snow land, visiting Santa Claus’s House, and Santa Claus’s Post Office brings you into a fairy tale world. It is a unique Chinese interpretation of a western festival. Here, Christmas lasts forever.

3. Eat an apple on Christmas Eve.

Apple Christmas fruit in China - Pingan Guo

Apple - Christmas fruit in China - Pingan Guo

The apple on Christmas Eve is no ordinary apple, it is called a “Peace apple”. Although it is a prevailing custom in China, many Chinese people don’t even know they invented it. Chinese young people send apples as presents to their friends, because Christmas Eve had been translated into Chinese into “Ping’an Ye” that indicates a peaceful night. Apple in Chinese is pronounced as “Ping guo”, which sounds like peace. It is said that eating an apple will make for a peaceful and safe new year. It shows how Chinese people love homophones.

4. Santa Claus is often seen playing a Saxophone.

Christmas toy - Santa is playing a saxophone

Christmas toy - Santa is playing a saxophone

Santa Claus has a very important role on Christmas Day, but Santa Claus playing saxophone is a uniquely Chinese image. It causes widespread confusion between westerners and Chinese people. Perhaps this instrument playing charming music seems to be romantic, which fits in well with Santa’s image in the Chinese impression. A Chinese Netizen joke remarks that it is better than making Santa play an Erhu (a traditional Chinese music instrument). People are also fond of changing Santa’s image, such as making Santa hold a book and wear Chinese traditional clothes.

5. There is a battle about whether Christmas should be celebrated in China.

Nationalists propose that we should resist celebrating Christmas Day in China, because the festival is a cultural invention. Chinese people should be cautious about western festivals, and support our own traditional culture. Chinese young people don’t really care about the core of Christmas Day. This is just one more excuse to relax and have fun with friends.

6. Christmas Holidays are different across China

How long is Christmas holiday in China?

In mainland China, Christmas is not a public holiday, because most Chinese people are not Christian, they celebrate Christmas only for entertainment. This is true for the Taiwan district as well.

There is a two-day public holiday in Hong Kong and Macau, because these districts have been deeply influenced by British and Portuguese.

Now, with China's increasing internationalization, it is attracting many foreigners to live or settle in the country. This is also a reason why the Christmas atmosphere is becoming more pronounced. Especially in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, etc., Christmas is celebrated with festive events in restaurants and shopping malls, catering to the holiday spirit.

Helpful Chinese Vocabulary for Christmas in China

Simplified Chinese Traditional Chinese Pinyin English
圣诞 聖誕 shèng dàn Christmas
圣诞节 聖誕節 shèng dàn jiē Christmas
圣诞老人 聖誕老人 shèng dàn lǎo rén Santa Claus
圣诞袜 聖誕襪 shèng dàn wà Christmas stocking
圣诞树 聖誕樹 shèng dàn shù Christmas tree
平安果 平安果 píng ān guǒ Christmas Eve apple
苹果 蘋果 píng guǒ Apple
平安夜 平安夜 píng ān yè Christmas Eve
姜饼人 薑餅人 jiāng bǐng rén Gingerbread man
麋鹿 麋鹿 mí lù Reindeer
雪橇 雪橇 xuě qiāo Sleigh
圣诞卡片 聖誕卡片 shèng dàn kǎ piàn Christmas cards
叮叮当 叮叮噹 dīng dīng dāng Jingle Bells
圣诞礼物 聖誕禮物 shèng dàn lǐ wù Christmas gift

Popular Christmas Greetings in Chinese

圣诞节快乐。shèng dàn jiē kuài lè
- Merry Christmas.

祝您平安喜乐,圣诞快乐。 zhù nín píng ān xǐ lè ,shèng dàn kuài lè
- May the peace and joy of Christmas be with you today and throughout the New Year.

愿您和您的家人度过一个愉快而美好的圣诞假期。yuàn nín hé nín de jiā rén dù guò yī gè yú kuài ér měi hǎo de shèng dàn jiǎ qī
- We wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a joyous holiday season.

By Teresa Chen
Travel Specialist
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