Most people in China know about Christmas, but it’s celebrated in quite a different way than at home in America.
While many shopping malls and restaurants will have decorations, play Christmas music, and have special discounts for the holiday season, people do not decorate their homes or buy trees like we do. It isn’t a national holiday in China like it is in America, after all, so students still have school and people still have work. (This year Christmas was on a Sunday, though, so they had the day off.) Instead of a big Christmas morning unwrapping presents, friends might give each other apples on Christmas Eve and then go to a restaurant to eat.
As a foreign teacher in China, it’s exciting to have the chance to introduce more Christmas traditions to my friends and students here! Here are a few ways I celebrated Christmas in China this year.
Class Christmas Lesson
We celebrated by having a special Christmas themed lesson in my classes – we talked about American traditions, played some games, and sang some Christmas songs. I also found it interesting to ask my students about their Chinese traditions for Christmas…I decided to make a video asking them “What do you want for Christmas” and “What will you do for Christmas this year?”
I think my students are so funny and I enjoyed making this with them! I hope you enjoy it too 😉 Here is the link in case you can’t view it directly here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isW1wh4q5j8
Foreign Language School Show
Our foreign language department has a Christmas show every year – it’s just like a talent show where students can sing, dance, or perform a drama. Lauren, Alli, Dylan and I went to the show together and got to sit at the front of the room in special “judge” chairs.
It was so fun to see many of my freshman students and some of my sophomore students that I taught last year! It’s really not a Christmas show because there isn’t any music or stories involved that are related to Christmas, but it’s still fun. 🙂
Party with Chinese Friends
It’s fun to spend time with Chinese friends we have made close friendships with. We ate at a nice Hunan restaurant then had a party at Lauren’s apartment where we baked cookies and played the Wolf Game (like the game Mafia).
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day
I spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the other foreigners – we had a Secret Santa gift exchange and (thanks to the amazing cooking skills of Lauren, Mere, and Pete the Irish guy) we had an awesome breakfast and dinner together.
So why do Chinese people give apples to each other? (And why did all my students ask for apples in the video I made?)
Apples are the Christmas love language in China. The Chinese word for apple (ping guo) sounds close to the word for Silent Night (Ping’an Ye), so friends will give each other this fruit on Christmas Eve to wish them a happy and healthy holiday. I’ve also heard Apple sounds close to the Chinese word for safety (ping’an). I have so many apples in my apartment now that I need to eat… 😛
My second Christmas in China was so fun thanks to my students and friends! I hope you had a Merry Christmas too – Shengdan Kuile!