You may think that Christmas is not celebrated in China, but that is not completely true. China officially has a Christian population of about 1% and perhaps unofficially it is a bit higher. Nestorian Christians were active in China from about 400 AD and even though Christianity did not take root at that time, it has had a dedicated following since the arrival of European missionaries in the 16th Century. This is especially so in the cities and these days, driven by internationalisation and a strong commercial impulse, Christmas is hard to miss. There are Christmas trees in department stores and in malls and kids have, unsurprisingly, learned to expect Christmas gifts. ;-)
This church in the centre of Huzhou dates to about 1918.
In our area there are many churches and the Christian population seems higher than the national average. There is also a new and very large cathedral a few kilometres from the city centre, but it doesn’t appear to be overwhelmed with parishioners. The current governor is discourages religion in line with Beijing’s policy, so overt displays of faith are almost non-existent.This cathedral a few kilometres from the centre of Huzhou was completed about 5 years ago, but doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed with devotees.
This cathedral a few kilometres from the centre of Huzhou was completed about 5 years ago, but doesn’t seem to be overwhelmed with devotees.
In spite of all the build up to the event, the day itself is an anti-climax. There is no official acknowledgment and everyone goes to work as usual. For us, it is a normal day at work, except that we give all the workers KFC for lunch. They enjoy that and it makes them happy to be working for a foreign company.
We do not regret missing out on all the commercial hype, but we do miss the Christmas fare, expressions of universal goodwill and the family get-togethers. Here in China, the time for that is Chinese New Year and the commercial hype for that is now well underway.
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