Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas - not just for Christians

China really gets into Christmas, which is strange considering how few Chinese are Christians. Wikipedia claims the number to be around 5%. Apparently the local government is encouraging the holiday as a form of mass consumerism and it is definitely catching on. What is funny is the dissociation between the Christmas holiday and the Christian religion. If we respond to the question, 'what are you doing for Christmas?' with the answer, 'nothing, we're Jewish ', we are met with completely blank stares. 'What has that got to do with anything?' you can hear them think.

As for celebrating the holiday, well lights and reindeer and Santas are up everywhere you look. And for Christmas Eve and Christmas the big thing to do is to go out for a huge dinner at a restaurant and eat special Christmas meals. Not quite the celebration that one might see back in the States. We even heard that last year during a midnight mass, Santa Claus made a star appearance at the height of the service.


Pam said...

"'what are you doing for Christmas?' with the answer, 'nothing, we're Jewish"

Er... I guess the Jewish Christmas tradition of having Chinese food would also get you blank stares? ;)

serwat said...

Aahhh, so thaaaat is what those blank stares mean when I respond to that question with, "I don't celebrate Christmas, I'm Muslim."

Usually, by the time the same person asks me that question a third time, I capitulate and say I'm having dinner with friends - which, in fact, I did!

But then the same person asks me what a traditional Christmas meal is like with my family in the US, and I have no choice but to offer up a beautiful TV-show version of Christmas dinner. The real version - Indian food - might get me back to those blank stares.

Now, if in spring, they ask me how I celebrate Easter, I have no idea how I'll handle that one.

Karen B said...

Happy Holidays - Whatever they are.
Karen & Eric

Lisa said...

Hey, just throw in a movie and you have the complete Jewish tradition!

You could always use this as an opportunity for some cross-cultural education :)