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Two faces of a Chinese Christmas


HONG KONG (SE): There is a Chinese way to celebrate Christmas, according to a report published in the Chinese news agency, Xinhua, on December 24. “On Christmas eve, Chinese youngsters embrace the festival like westerners, but not for the religious reasons or for family reunion.”

Xinhua reports that young people approach the feast more like a festival and an opportunity to take a break from their busy lives.

It quoted Lui Ping, a postgraduate student from Shanxi University of Finance and Economics, as saying that she spent last Christmas having dinner with her boyfriend and haunting the bargain sales in the shopping malls which are mostly decorated with trees and Santas, with the strains of Jingle Bells in the background.

“Carrying a lot of pressure the young seek to relax, providing moneymaking opportunities for merchants, Ma Zhichao, the director of the Humanistic Resource Development and Research Centre of Shanxi Academy of Social Sciences, said.

“Festivals like Christmas have been turned into a shopping festival, even a carnival,” Ma added.

Nevertheless, Xinhua notes that while shopping may be the most visible way of celebrating, there are many young people who mark Christmas in a way more consistent with the true feast.

It relates that Chen Kejia was baptised on the Sunday prior to Christmas, becoming a Christian.

“I chose to get baptised on that day. To spend a real Christmas with other Christians, Chen, a nurse at a foreign-funded hospital in Beijing, said, adding that the most attractive part of Christianity is love of family, friends, colleagues and even people you do not know.

The Xinhua report then tells of a young Catholic woman, surnamed Zhao, spending her first Christmas in Beijing. She said that she is accustomed to celebrating the feast in the cathedral in her hometown, but this year she would have the chance to attend Mass in the Beijing South church.

Another, named Yang, was reported as saying, “for real Catholics like us, Christmas is a day to remember the birth of Jesus. It moves me and gives me power.”

However, Yang commented that he believes that the commercialisation of Christmas spoils the celebration of the feast to a certain extent, because it has nothing to do with religious belief and is consequently distracting.


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