Christmas in Beijing

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Christmas is clearly not a traditional Chinese holiday; we don't even get the day off from work. But like many cultures around the world, the Chinese (at least here in Beijing) have adopted some of the trappings of Christmas, especially around big shopping malls (even though I don't think there's really a gift giving tradition yet for this time of the year). Every mall and big many big commercial buildings have Christmas lights up, big "Merry Xmas" signs and so on; these all tend to be on the Santa Claus/Christmas tree side of the house and not the "A Savior is Born" type. Linus would be disappointed.

While you can find some real Christmas trees here (boy, are they scruffy compared to the ones in Seattle!), we decided to take a more local approach. We picked a living bamboo plant and decorated it with some lights and a few ornaments. We figured it was kind of funny, and we could keep the plant afterwards. I think Michelle did a nice job decorating it, but it does make our apartment look a bit like we're opening a Chinese restaurant.

Our Christmas bamboo plant, complete with lights and a red bow.

The management of our apartment building also threw a lovely and pretty lavish Christmas party/brunch this weekend. It was very nice to meet some of our neighbors, and the boys came back with some nice presents from Santa. (We also won the third prize drawing of two massages at a nearby spa and a box of assorted juices. Guess which one of us will get the massages and which will get the juice? Mmm, I'm looking forward to that juice...)

I know that no one has really seen Santa and that I'm a product of Judo-Christian Eurocentric brainwashing broadcast through the blanking interval on my TV, but our very sincere local Santa didn't quite have the right look to me. (No, it's not me playing Santa in this photo). Still, we all enjoyed the party very much.

Andrew and Michael with Santa.

The holidays are where the heart is, of course, so I'm sure we'll have a nice Christmas here. It's definitely interesting to see these traditions played back through new eyes though.

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kristen Reply

I'm not proud to admit that it did cross my mind that you might be the santa in the photo. :)

Robear Dyer, MS MVP Reply

KristenK just told me you were in China now and gave me the link to your blog. What a marvelous new chapter for your family and career. Best of luck, you are missed already, Tony.

Tony Reply

@Kristen: When I saw the photo, I thought the Santa looked a bit like me; hence my comment.

@Robear: Thanks!

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