Saturday, September 13, 2008

Happy Holidays in China!

Happy Holidays! Which ones? Take your pick! Over the past 5,020 years, [I was told China is 5000 years old but that was 20 years ago) Chinese have created so many holidays that it’s a wonder they don’t celebrate non-holidays for being so rare. And some Minnan traditions, like Mid-autumn Festival mooncake games, are unlike anything else in China (see next post).

To add to the merry mayhem, and perhaps as an excuse to celebrate the rare days that aren’t already holidays, Chinese are also adopting Western holidays.

Santa Bless You! There was not a Christmas tree in site when we came in 1988, but now Chinese seem to celebrate the Yuletide as much as we do. Even post offices have Christmas trees, and church loudspeakers broadcast traditional hymns like Silent Night, We Three Kings, Frosty the Snowman and Jingle Bells. We can even buy Christmas cards, like the classic that says, “Santa Bless You!”

Heart to Heart
Chinese have also taken to Valentine’s Day with a passion (literally!). A girl gas station attendant in a remote town asked me, “Did you buy your wife flowers? It’s that day, you know!” Shops and stalls are full of roses. Kids sell them on street sides. And stores have Valentine’s cards, and cute little sweetheart figurines—with a Chinese slant to them!

One student said, “We Chinese learned about Valentines from the West.” I said, “With a 1.3 billion population, I doubt it!”

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