In China, only about one percent of people are Christians, so most people only know a few things about Christmas.
Because of this, Christmas is only celebrated often in major cities. In these big cities there are Christmas trees, lights and other decorations on the streets and in the department stores. Santa Claus is called ‘Shen Dan Lao Ren’ and has caves in stores like in Europe and America. Postmaterials can dress like Santa when they deliver letters before Christmas!
More and more young people celebrate Christmas in cities where Christmas holidays are becoming popular and it is also a time when young couples will be gifts to each other, a bit like Valentine’s Day.
In Chinese, Merry Christmas is ‘Sheng Dan Kuai Le or 圣诞 快乐’ in Mandarin and ‘Seng Dan Fai Lok or 聖誕 快樂’ in Cantonese.
In China, Santa is known as ‘Sheng dan lao ren’ (Traditional: Simplified: means Old Man of Christmas).
Only a few people have a Christmas tree. If people have a tree, it is usually made of plastic and could be decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns (they might also call it a light tree). The Christmas trees that most people would see would be in shopping centers.
The strange thing is that most of the world’s plastic Christmas trees and Christmas decorations are made in China, but the people who make them may not have decorations like these in their own homes at Christmas!
A tradition that is becoming popular, on Christmas Eve, is to give apples. Many stores have apples wrapped in colored paper for sale. People give apples on Christmas Eve because on Chinese Christmas Eve it is called “Ping’an Ye” (), which means quiet night, which has been translated from the Christmas carol “Silent Night”. The word for apple in Mandarin is “píngguǒ” (苹果) which sounds like the word for peace.
Some people go to Carol singing, although not many people understand or know about the Christmas story. Jingle Bells is a popular Christmas song in China!
People who are Christian in China go to special services. Going to Midnight Mass services has become very popular.