This was my fifth Christmas spent out of the United States, and my second in a country that does not celebrate Christmas. Supposedly. It turns out that the Chinese love Christmas! On Christmas day, I went out in Xi’an for an amazing dumpling feast. The town was pulsating with energy. People, including cops, were everywhere. According to my guide, they were out for Christmas. The cities all have a heightened police presence on this day because Christmas is a big, big deal in China. As are Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and most surprisingly of all, Thanksgiving. Young Chinese start learning English from a very young age and with the language education, they learn about the culture. They’ve seized upon our culture and embraced it as their own with a surprising passion.
I later verified what this guide said with another guide in Shanghai because sometimes you never know how much truth is in what someone is telling you. But she said the same thing. Young Chinese love celebrating American holidays. They don’t really do anything specific to celebrate like we do. Rather, it’s just an excuse for a day to be out and about, roaming the city and having a good time. Judging by the Christmas decorations everywhere and the traditional and pop Christmas music playing from speakers everywhere (and I do mean everywhere, not just in my western hotels or in the tourist shopping areas), I believe these guides. I certainly hadn’t expected the holiday to be so in my face in a country where only 2.5 percent of the people identify with a Christian religion. But Christmas stopped being a religious holiday a long, long time ago, didn’t it?
Anyway, I was not there to celebrate Christmas, so here are a bunch of lovely, non-holiday oriented photos from my vacation. Enjoy!
For the Christmas and New Year’s holiday in 2018, I spent 12 days in the People’s Republic of China. The trip marked the first time I had been to Asia in over 16 years. In these 12 posts, I share my thoughts, observations, and feelings about the PRC. For a highly readable, more in-depth account of past and future China from a westerner who lived there for many years, I recommend Rob Gifford’s China Road.