With only 1% of the Chinese population Christian, you might think Christmas is not celebrated in China. However, Christians in China have similar traditions as the United States. They celebrate Christmas in China by decorating their houses with paper lanterns and lighting, and trim their Christmas tree with paper flowers, chains, and lanterns. Chinese Christians call their trees, “Trees of Light”. Despite Christmas day not being a public holiday, the holiday is becoming more popular and you can find Christmas decorations, trees, and lights being sold in urban department stores.
Christmas in China and the New Year
The Chinese New Year, which takes place from the middle of the twelfth month of one year to the middle of the first month of the new year, is similar to our Christmas season. Their main celebration occurs on the eve of the Chinese New Year. Everyone gathers together for dinner including “jiaozi” or dumplings boiled in water. After dinner, as in our family, they play cards, board games, or watch TV programs focused on the holiday. They keep every light on the whole night and fireworks begin at midnight.
Similar to our Christmas morning, the children receive presents but it is cash wrapped in red paper packages. Afterwards the family visits their relatives, and neighbors to convey wishes of sincere peace and happiness. In the days following, they continue their visiting and exchange many gifts such as clothing and toys. Fifteen days later the Festival of Lanterns ends the Chinese New Year season with lantern shows and folk dances everywhere. An emphasis is put on the worship of ancestors and their paintings are brought out and hung in the main room of the house..
More information on the Chinese celebration of Christmas and New Year can be found in our article “Christmas in China”.