Merry Christmas! 圣诞快乐!
It’s that time of the year again… time to be with our families, eat way too much food and spend way too much money. Seriously, though, Christmas, which falls on the 25th of December, is a very important Western holiday and a wonderful time to give thanks for everything we have received during the year.
Many people, especially in the West wonder if they celebrate Christmas in China. Well, the answer is a little more complicated than yes or no.
China is a communist country and officially espouses atheism. However, daoism, confucianism and buddhism are the three main teachings that, historically, have shaped China.
The government of China does formally recognise five different religions. These are: Buddhism, Daoism, catholicism, Protestantism and Islam.
(Catholicism and Protestanism are the two largest Christian churches)
While only around 1% of the Chinese population regard themselves as Christian, Christianity is the fastest growing religion in China, with an average annual growth rate of 7%.
That means, you can find Christian churches and pastors in China. Although recently, the government has begun to crack down on ‘unofficial’ places of worship.
So, do they celebrate Christmas in China?
Well, yeah. But it depends on where you are.
If you’re hoping for big Christmas celebrations in China, you’re mostly out of luck. However, you’ll definitely feel the spirit of Christmas in the big cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou.
It’s the young people especially who make an effort to celebrate Christmas by going out for dinner and giving each other gifts. Many households will even buy a Christmas tree (though it will probably be a plastic one!).
Schools, especially international ones, will often have Christmas celebrations where the teachers will dress up as Santa or other Christmas figures.
An interesting tradition during Christmas time in China is the act of giving apples on Christmas Eve. I know it sounds strange but there is some logic to it.
You see, Christmas Eve in China is called Ping An Ye/平安夜 (peaceful evening) and the word for apple in Chinese is Ping Guo/苹果, which sounds very similar!
So, don’t be surprised if your students or colleagues give you apples on Christmas Eve. They are often decorated in beautiful colored paper and ribbons.
Bear in mind that the 25th of December is not a holiday in China, so prepare to be working on Christmas! Of course, you may take time off of your own accord.
Christmas is a holiday, a time to step back from the business of every day life and focus on family, friends and being joyful! For many this means thei daily routines are put on hold (including language learning), and that’s ok! It’s fine to have a break every now and then.
But we’ve got your back.
To ensure you still learn some Chinese over the festive period, we’ve compiled a Christmas-themed Chinese vocabulary list. Check it out below.
Oh by the way, if you’re serious about improving your over all vocabulary then read our article ‘Learning Chinese Vocabulary: The Ultimate Guide’.
Click here to download a high-quality version.
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