Santa and reindeers in China

02 Jan 2008|Cynthia Chan

Fielding projects during the holidays is not something we do very frequently but this year, I had the honor to conduct a series of ethnographies in Shanghai and Beijing during the last week of December. Even though Christmas is not an official holiday in China, it has successfully became one of the most celebrated western holidays in China in recent years.

Christmas in China is getting as festive as it can get compared to earlier years. I am constantly being greeted face to face by Santa (or his paper cut-out counterparts) around town. Shopping malls are elaborately decorated by Christmas trees and sparkling lights, and Christmas music completes the package.

Of course, numerous promotions and tempting sales added finishing touches to the already heated atmosphere. The Nanjing Road pedestrian district was lined by young couples on Christmas Eve, with street hawkers selling roses, reindeer head gear, fireworks, etc. Young people celebrated the holiday in a social way more than anything. Getting a table on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day became more of a mission than a simple walk-in as on any other regular day. Many also see Christmas as the beginning of a holiday season, followed by the New Year and the traditional Spring Festival.

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