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5 Festive Christmas Traditions in China

‘Tis the season to be jolly! 

Christmas is never short of fun-filled celebrations and activities, even in countries that are relatively new to it. Although the merry holiday has only been popular in China in recent decades, more and more Chinese revelers have begun to take part in the festivities, even making their own traditions along the way. Check out our list of how the Chinese celebrate Christmas below!


1. Going on Romantic Dates

In China, Christmas is often celebrated as yet another kind of Valentine’s Day, making it a popular time to go on special dates with your significant other. Taking advantage of the season’s jubilant atmosphere, young couples have easily converted Christmas activities such as ice skating and gift-giving into romantic traditions. All in all, with love in the air, it’s not surprising to see many considering Christmas to be the most wonderful time of the year. 


2. Shopping

Perhaps it’s a near-universal experience to go shopping during the Christmas season — after all, how else are you supposed to get everyone’s gifts? But since only 5% of China’s population are Christians, it isn’t surprising to see that Christmas is treated more as a commercial opportunity rather than as a religious celebration. What this means, of course, is that there are a lot more holiday sales to take advantage of! When they say that Christmas is the season of giving, surely there’s more than enough room to get a couple of gifts for yourself, right?


3. Giving Peace Apples

If there’s one Christmas tradition that is entirely unique to the Chinese, it’s this! In China, Christmas eve is commonly referred to as the Silent Night — a reference to one of the most popular carols. Like many other Chinese practices, the custom of giving “peace apples” comes from wordplay. In this case, “silent night” is translated to 平安夜 (Píng’ān Yè) in Mandarin. Since the “ping” in silent night sounds the same as the “ping” in apples (苹果, píngguǒ), many Chinese revelers have decided to start giving apples on Christmas eve!


4. Eating a Christmas Feast

The best way to celebrate special holidays is to eat special food! Since Christmas is often perceived to be a Western holiday, some Chinese revelers will choose to have some traditional turkey or ham. However, since those are a bit harder to come by in the country, many Chinese families opt to instead have either a Peking duck or an eight treasure duck (read: a dish stuffed with chicken, shrimp, smoked ham, chestnuts, bamboo shoots, scallops, mushrooms, and more) as the star of their Yuletide feast. Other dishes may also include lucky foods such as dumplings, spring rolls, and oranges. 


5. Decorating Trees with Paper Lanterns

What’s Christmas without a traditional Christmas tree? Often called “trees of light,” a Chinese Christmas tree is often beautifully decorated with paper chains, flowers, and lanterns that lend a unique festive glow to the Yuletide season. These ornaments typically come in red since the color is best associated with happiness and good fortune. 


Want to know about other interesting Christmas traditions around the globe? Why not check out our article here

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