Christmas in Beijing, by Kaia Murray

Christmas is a time most of us spend with family. The thought of spending the holiday season away from home can therefore be a bit daunting. Fortunately, with a little ingenuity and flexibility, it’s entirely possible to create a festive atmosphere here in Beijing.

In China, Christmas is acknowledged in the same way that Valentine’s day is in the West. It is viewed as a light-hearted day to spend with friends rather than a family-focused day built on traditions and customs. In the lead up to Christmas, decorations, Santa Claus and Christmas Trees start popping up around the city. Many can still be seen standing days after New Year’s Day. Christmas and New Year’s almost merge into one extended event. Although Christmas is not widely celebrated in China, many businesses will acknowledge the event and friendly locals are eager to wish Westerners a merry Christmas. This makes celebrating Christmas easier.

Getting into the Christmas spirit is simply a matter of figuring out how to bring Christmas to you. What can you do to make it feel like Christmas? Fairy lights, decorations and plastic Christmas trees are easily obtainable online. Carrefour and Wu Mart also include a Christmas section in December if you are looking to decorate. Playing Christmas carols and organizing a Christmas morning present swap are great ways to create a shared, festive atmosphere.

Aihua organizes events and activities to help bring Christmas to its centres and teachers. At the end of last year, as Christmas approached, each centre organized a Secret Santa and a meal for the staff there. Both local and foreign staff got together and had a great time. For Christmas Day, the foreign teachers from all centres were invited to a buffet dinner at a nearby hotel. It was a day filled with food, fantastic people, laughter and all things jolly. Both the buffet and Secret Santa helped to spread the Christmas spirit.

Spending Christmas in China is undoubtedly different to spending it at home, but getting into the spirit is simply about figuring out how to bring Christmas to you. Decorations are obtainable, Christmas trees are displayed throughout the city, and Aihua organizes activities to ensure its teachers are surrounded by people just as eager to celebrate the day. Creating a festive atmosphere is entirely possible with a little bit of effort. What makes Christmas merry?

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