Do the Chinese celebrate Christmas in China? Well, the answer to this question is both YES and NO.
If you walked around a major Chinese city 20 years ago, you probably wouldn't have seen many signs of Christmas. This is because Christmas is a Christian holiday and not many Chinese people are Christian. However, if you were to visit those same Chinese cities today, you'd see signs of Christmas everywhere you looked! On the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing, China, there are Christmas displays everywhere. Many Chinese people celebrate by decorating their houses with Christmas trees, cooking and eating special foods, and spending time with family and friends.
So yes, the Chinese celebrate Christmas. But no, most do not celebrate it for the same reasons that Christians do.
In Hong Kong, the figure who visits children is known as Lan Khoong or Dun Che Lao Ren. There are church services given in Chinese as well as English. Children send Christmas cards depicting the Holy Family in a Chinese setting. Public areas are decorated with Nativities, poinsettias, streamers, and paper chains.
HOW TO CELEBRATE A CHINESE CHRISTMAS
In China, it's mainly Christians who celebrate Christmas, although the commercial aspect of the holiday is spreading. For everyone else, the Chinese New Year is the big event of the season.
1. Make paper lanterns to decorate your house.
2. Set up a Tree of Light, or Christmas tree, and adorn it with paper chains, paper flowers and paper lanterns. These trees are usually artificial.
3. Help your children hang muslin stockings to be filled with small presents.
4. Expect Dun Che Lao Ren, or Christmas Old Man, to visit.
5. Participate in local festivals (like Hong Kong's Ta Chiu festival), which happen in many parts of China. They may or may not be directly associated with Christmas.
6. Go to church if this religious tradition is an important part of your Christmas celebration. Midnight Mass is popular with the small Catholic population.
7. Prepare for the Chinese New Year, officially called the Spring Festival, which marks the beginning of the new Chinese calendar year.
8. Buy your children new clothes and toys for the occasion.
9. Understand that it's appropriate to honor your ancestors during the New Year's celebration; hang portraits in your home of relatives from past generations.
10. Display bowls of oranges and tangerines, which symbolize wealth and good fortune.
Give friends and relatives red envelopes containing lucky money as a gift for the Chinese New Year.
Only a small part of the Chinese population is Christian, as Christianity is not an officially sanctioned religion in China.
CHRISTMAS IN HONG KONG