So being the first Xmas since moving to China I was quite interested to see what the hell actually goes on here. In SA everyone slowly slips into a warm holiday coma and no one dares to email each other until well into the New Year. There are however, few decorations, a large number of family gatherings and general all round merriment and drinking. I was eager to find out if I could expect the same!
China is, needless to say, a little different . . .
Firstly it is freezing (given that it’s the northern hemisphere that’s not a massive surprise really). Secondly there is a rather large expat population in Shanghai so there are an abundance of Xmas parties, brunches, lunches, dinners, events and markets. You would swear you were in a small German town somewhere by the amount of Bratwurst & Gluwein available around the city this time of year.
There are a good few gift, food and booze markets happening around the city (for some reason, I have no idea why, they are all German themed)
Thirdly every single major brand goes mental over Xmas. They have decorations for every piece of their stores, massive trees outside and everything you would expect to find in Paris during Xmas time.
Every building has a tree, presumably that’s cause every apartment building I’ve been into is full of Laowai, but never the less, our building even has a lift to put the star on the top (and gives everyone a very cute Santa filled with Xmas sweets!)
Then there are the abundance of Xmas parties which include proper carol singing, a first entirely for me, large amounts of alcohol, certainly not a first for me and just the same warm friend and family time as home – with a few homemade DIY Strawberry Santa’s!
Lastly what makes this so entirely bizarre is that the Chinese really do not know its Xmas at all. I mean they know that it’s happening but they have no idea what it’s about, what the point is and what you are supposed to do. My company does not stop, not on Xmas day, not on Boxing Day, not for a second. Why would it, it’s just another day here, yet the streets are lined with lights and trees, the consumers are buying like westerners shopping for presents. Yet when asked why they like Xmas so much, they say they are not sure they just like festivals – can’t argue with that logic.
All in all it’s a very strange time of year. On one hand I’ve never seen so many decorations, so much festivity and on the other its like it doesn’t even exist to 99.9% of the people but yet they still seem to want the pretty lights and festivity. All in all it really is a beautiful time to be in Shanghai!