3 Ways to Celebrate Christmas Chinese-Style

Christmas has come to China, and if you are a celebrator of Christmas then your festivities don’t have to stop when you leave home. A study on Chinese society showed that people aged 15-45 celebrate Christmas in China. This doesn’t mean Christmas will be the same as back home though—instead of a family dinner, people usually go out together as a group of friends to the movies, bar, karaoke or to dinner. Christmas has its own unique existence in China, and each person has their own way of celebrating it.
That being said, here are 3 great ways that Christmas is and can be celebrated this year in China!

1. 平安夜送苹果 (Píng’ān yè sòng píngguǒ) Give Apples on Christmas Eve

A common Christmas present in China is apples wrapped in beautiful gift wrapping—Christmas with a Chinese flavor. Giving apples on Christmas Eve is an interesting custom that can be seen in China. So why apples? Chinese people care a lot about harmony. For example, on a person’s wedding night, peanuts, red dates and lotus seeds will be put on the bed, which metaphorically implies “早(枣)生贵子 have sons early.” In Chinese, “枣 date” and “早 early” have the same sound “zǎo.” Furthermore, people wish the newlyweds have sons early. The “苹 (píng)“ in “苹果 (píngguǒ) apple” and the “平 (píng)” in “平安 (píng’ān) safe” have the same sound, and so to Chinese people giving an apple has the metaphorical meaning of wishing someone “平安 (píng’ān).”

2. 逛商场 (Guàng shāngchǎng) Go Window Shopping

Around Christmas time, all the shops in China have “折扣 (zhékòu) discounts” so you can enjoy the holiday more and buy gifts for friends. Many shop employees will wear little red Christmas hats to bolster a holiday atmosphere and get people spending. There are many beautiful Christmas decorations, Christmas presents, Christmas trees in rows, and every color of lantern, turning the mall into a lovely Christmas party with Christmas music. So it will be a good choice to go shopping with your friends on Christmas. In China, you can enjoy more strong and lively festive atmosphere in the mall than that at home.

3. 圣诞大餐 (Shèngdàn dàcān) Christmas Dinner
Christmas Dinner

A proper Christmas celebration is not complete without delicious food! In China, very few people will stay at home to cook a meal, and most will go out for dinner. At this time, no matter which cuisine you dine on, a speciality meal promoted in China at this time is Christmas “套餐 (tàocān) set meals.” These meals can be set for two (lover’s package) or a family meal. Of course, there is the turkey dinner that some people can’t go without, along with other special Christmas food promotions such as gingerbread, candy and more.

Christmas-related Words:

1. 苹果 (píngguǒ) Apple
Wǒ yào zài píng’ānyè sòng yí gè píngguǒ gěi nǐ.
我   要  在   平安夜     送   一 个    苹果    给 你。
I want to give you an apple on Christmas eve.

2. 平安 (píng’ān) Safe and sound; without mishap; well
Tāmen yǐjīng píng’ān dào jiā.
他们    已经   平安     到  家。
They already arrived home safe and sound.

3. 折扣 (zhékòu) Discount
Gěi wǒ gè shèngdànjié zhékòu hǎo ma?
给  我  个     圣诞节      折扣     好   吗?
Will you give me a Christmas discount?

4. 套餐 (tàocān) Set meal
Tāmen chī de shì shèngdàn tàocān.
他们    吃  的 是      圣诞      套餐。
They ate a a Christmas meal.

HSK 3 quiz

1. What is the meaning of 平安夜 (píng’ānyè)?
A. Safe night
B. Christmas Eve
C. Christmas day
D. Night of apples

More on Christmas in China:

Five Things you Should Know about Chinese Gift-Giving
Santa Claus vs. Chinese “母老虎(mǔlǎohǔ)-Tigress”

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