For us in Germany, the contemplative Advent days, brightly lit and colorfully decorated Christmas trees and a glass of mulled wine or punch on the Christmas market are a matter of course in December. But what about in the Far East? Is the Christmas season also celebrated there or has the Western Family Festival not found its way there yet?
In China, Christianity does not have a long history. It is estimated that only about two to six percent of the population is Christian. Since the majority of Chinese people are Buddhist, Christmas is not celebrated primarily for religious reasons. Nevertheless, it can be observed in the cities of China, such as Shanghai or Beijing, that Christmas symbols, such as Santa Claus, are increasingly to be found in the shop windows and restaurants. Similar to ours, large shopping centers are decorated for Christmas and decorated with plastic Christmas trees and colorful fairy lights.
But that was it with the similarities. Apart from the Christmas look, the festival in China has little to do with the original. Only very few Chinese at all know why Christmas is celebrated. The internationality of the Western Festival is the real reason why it is sloshed to the Far East and is accepted there especially by the young people. It is similar in Germany with Halloween or Thanksgiving. A big difference is that Christmas is not celebrated by the Chinese as a family celebration, but more like a mix of New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day. Especially on Christmas Eve, the streets and squares of the big cities fill with people. Many go out to eat together, to a bar or to karaoke. Often, Chinese people also use December 24 to give their better half. In a family round, however, is celebrated only in the rarest cases.
Here, too, are unusual Christmas customs such as the Advent wreath or calendar. Even the Christmas tree is not placed at home but mainly in public places. Incidentally, the Chinese consumer industry in particular is helping to make Christmas ever more prevalent. This makes it more of a commercial rather than a religious celebration. For example, there are large Christmas discount promotions in the shopping malls.
For most Chinese people, Christmas is first and foremost a joyful opportunity to be together with friends or as a couple, to celebrate with exuberance and at the same time to enjoy the festive and, for Chinese people, quite unusual decoration and music.