Christmas Around the World — China
Do people in China celebrate Christmas? Until a couple decades ago the answer was, "No." Sure, Christians in China celebrated Christmas; but, because Christmas is considered a religious holiday, the nation of China did not celebrate Christmas. Slowly but surely the celebration of Christmas is making inroads in the Chinese nation. It still is not a national holiday. Government offices, stores, restaurants, and other places of business are still open on Christmas day. However, the glamour, the lights, the gaiety, the festivity of Christmas is spreading to cities all over China.
In China the Christmas season starts with a bang. Literally. As Christmas is the season of light, fireworks light up the opening of the Christmas season. Jugglers and acrobats also welcome the Christmas season with their antics. Just as food plays a big part of Christmas in the west, feasting is a major part of the Chinese Christmas celebration.
Christians in China call Christmas "Sheng Dan Jieh," meaning Holy Birth Festival. Many of them celebrate the birth of Christ by attending church services. Churches report that attendance at these Christmas services is growing every year even among non-religious people.
Just as with other festivals people enjoy decorating their houses for Christmas. Christmas trees, known as "trees of light," are decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns. Houses are lit with beautiful paper lanterns.
Santa Claus does make an appearance in China where he is called Dun Che Lao Ren, Christmas Old Man, or Lan Khoong-Khoong, Nice Old Father. Children do not leave him cookies and milk or write him letters asking for gifts, but they enjoy seeing Santa in the malls and marketplaces of China and getting photographs made with him.
Traditionally, gifts are not exchanged at Christmas but at the Chinese New Year instead. As years go by and Christmas becomes a bigger part of the Chinese culture, however, exchanging Christmas cards and gifts at Christmas time is becoming more popular.