how china has taken to christmas

  1. 301 Posts.

    By Xinran

    "HAVE YOU started Christmas shopping?" My friends have been asking me this since early November, when my head was still filled with Zhong Qiu Jie, the Chinese mid-autumn festival. Six weeks until God's birthday is a long way to go,I thought.

    "Did you do Christmas shopping when you were in China before 1997?" I did some, but it would be hard to call it Christmas shopping when you compare it to the hundreds and thousands of shopping bags that block the London streets. I was already too old for Christmas shopping, which in most Chinese eyes was considered a western romantic bit of fun for the young.

    In fact, the first Christmas things after "open policy" was introduced came not from those big department stores where staff were trying to change their manner from very officious to more encouraging and commercial; nor from "the foreigners' friendship shops", which sold only to foreign diplomats and top officials, who paid in dollars. At that time most Christmas things were sold in the markets full of "xiao shang, xiao faner" - hucksters shouting "the best from western Craze Mass".

    I once asked a market traderin Nanjing, a woman in her 60s wearing a red beret, "What is Christmas? What's it for?"

    "That is the date for USA God! You see my hat, this is their Craze Mass hat, westerners like the colour red... I did wonder if that was true after everybody said capitalists like black; but as you know, those rich capitalists are very colourful. Money and wealth bring colour to human lives... come on, buy one, forget your age... we have missed out on a lot." I bought my first ever Christmas tree from her. It was made from paper, was no bigger than my hand and had sesame seed-size stars.

    I didn't think too much about how logical her theory on money and colour was, but afterwards I could see it not only in the festival celebrations but in China's improved daily life. Between the 50s and 80s Chinese people wore a uniform of blue, grey and military green - but not black as that is too capitalist and signifies bad luck.

    Christmas, which has become a big thing in the cities over the past few years, has brightened up China in the winter. I recently saw a photo of a Chinese family's Christmas Eve in Tianjing, a harbour city near Beijing. Six family members - three grandparents, two parents and one daughter - were all standing with a huge plastic Father Christmas next to their dining table; you could see the colourful lights and beautiful flashing curtains behind them.

    I have to say, in my parents' photos, before they were burned by the red guards, I never saw such rich colours, even though they painted the colours on to black and white photos. But they never painted that much colour in.-----The Guardian News Service.
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