How China Celebrates Christmas


  While Christmas (圣诞节: shèngdànjié) isn’t an official Chinese holiday, it is still a holiday that is enjoyed unofficially by many. Just as in the U.S., shopping promotions and Christmas decorations mark the beginning of a holiday season that usually extends all the way to Chinese New Year. Restaurants play Christmas music in Chinese, and parents might take their children to see Santa (圣诞老人: shèngdàn lǎorén). For the younger generation, they celebrate Christmas by shopping and going out to dinner with friends. For Chinese Christians, they may observe the day in the traditional way: going to church for a Christmas Mass. Christmas is also commemorated with a custom that is distinct to mainland China. On Christmas Eve, stores and fruit vendors will carry special “peace apples,” usually their best-looking apples, for the holiday. This comes from the words for Christmas Eve and apple: Christmas Eve is called 平安夜 (píng'ān yè): the night of peace. Because the Chinese word for apple—苹果 (píngguǒ)—sounds similar, many people exchange apples as gifts on Christmas Eve. This Christmas Eve, you and your family can celebrate Christmas with Chinese characteristics: in addition to exchanging gifts, exchange apples to mark the night of peace.

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