How does China celebrate Christmas?

Christmas decorations outside the World Trade Center in Beijing

Staying in China this Christmas? Read on to find out a bit more about what to expect!

Christmas is not celebrated at all by the vast majority of Chinese, since only 1% of Chinese are Christian and most aren’t influenced that much by Western culture.However, young children might learn about it in their English classes, and in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai young people sometimes celebrate. Western culture is more accessible there, and of course, it’s fashionable! This means that Christmas is a holiday for hanging out with your friends or partner, not your family. Young people might shop, go for a meal together (though not a traditional Christmas meal as most of those foods are virtually unheard of in China) or sing karaoke. 
Shopping malls and supermarkets are the most festive places, and many have Christmas trees, but because they’re seen more as general decorations rather than specifically for Christmas, they often stay up for Chinese New Year and beyond!

Interestingly, there is one unusual Christmas tradition unique to China… giving apples! 

In Chinese culture, it is common for auspicious meanings to be given to items that sound similar to lucky words. For example, in Chinese, the word for blessings is ‘fu’ (福) and the word for bat (蝠) is also pronounced ‘fu’. Therefore, bats are a lucky symbol.

The same has happened with Christmas Eve. In Chinese, it is called ‘Ping’An Ye’ (平安夜), which means ‘peaceful evening’. Apples are called ‘pingguo’ (苹果), so because they sound similar they’ve taken on a lucky meaning for that day. You can buy gift-wrapped apples in some supermarkets and fruit shops in the major cities where Christmas is celebrated. Some farmers even put a kind of stencil on the apple so that a festive decorative design forms on the apple as it grows!

The design on this apple says ‘Merry Christmas’! (圣诞快乐). Photo: Xinhua/Twitter

So if you’re new to China and celebrating your first Christmas here, be prepared for it to be a bit different to at home! However you’re celebrating, a very merry Christmas from us here at Cultural Keys!

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About Us

Interested in learning more about and experiencing the traditional culture of China?

Cultural Keys Chinese Culture Centre, a registered company in Hong Kong, Beijing and the UK, was founded in 2013 by three expats who were inspired by the difficulty of accessing authentic traditional culture in Beijing.
 
Since then, Cultural Keys has helped hundreds of people do exactly that.

 

Founded by British expats Nicola Doering and AJ Donnelly, Cultural Keys is run on the love and passion we have for traditional Chinese culture.

We believe 100% in making the beauty, wisdom and traditions of Chinese culture available to everyone.

 

And because we are a foreign-owned and foreign run company, we can see Chinese culture through unique eyes, and are able to work with our expert teachers to tailor all our classes, products and services in a way that makes our content most accessible to our clients.

Experience the joy of traditional Chinese culture with Cultural Keys

So no matter what your reason for being interested in this country and its culture, whether at our culture centre, at your school or office, at iconic locations around China or on our website and social media channels, when you are with Cultural Keys you truly have the opportunity to unlock the potential of China!

Cultural Keys Chinese Culture Centre

191 (North Door A), Xiaopu North Road
Xiaopu Village, Songzhuang
Tongzhou, Beijing

北京市, 通州区, 宋庄镇,
小堡村, 小堡北街191号 (北门-A)
(蓝天幼儿园南一个路口)

+86 18611558781
010 89595202

Monday – Friday: By Appointment
Saturday – Sunday: 12pm – 6pm