As cultural divides narrow due to globalization and increased travel opportunities, Christmas has quickly spread beyond its Western origins. With all of the entertaining festivities that the jolly holiday entails, China has come to embrace the spirit of Christmas as well.
Although Christmas isn’t a public holiday in China and there isn’t an emphasis on the religious aspects there are many other ways that Christmas is celebrated. There are 3 primary activities that people in China participate in to partake in the holiday cheer during Christmas time.
1. 送苹果 (Sòng píngguǒ)
“送苹果 (Sòng píngguǒ)”, means to give somebody an apple as a present. And on December 24th, which is Christmas eve, many Chinese people gift apples. Since many Chinese traditions are rooted in homophones it’s no surprise that this tradition sprouted from the similarities in pronunciation of “苹 (píng)” in “苹果 (píngguǒ)” and “平 (píng)” in “平安 (píng’ān)”. Thus Chinese people see an apple as a symbol of safety and peace and giving friends and relatives an apple as a present is meant to express wishes of good blessings.
平 (Píng): Flat, level, even; peaceful
平安 (Píng’ān): Safe and sound, at peace
2. 娱乐活动 (Yúlè huódòng)
In China, Christmas is seen as a day for entertainment even though it isn’t one of China’s public holidays. Retailers usually provide discounts for customers in order to promote themselves as being festive and participate in the celebrations. This works well since many Chinese people enjoy activities such as shopping, watching movies, going on dates and sending gift cards or even skiing to experience Western festivities.
3. 装饰 (Zhuāngshì)
This is an activity that is similar to how Westerners celebrate. When Christmas is coming, people usually dress up to display their Christmas spirit. This includes wearing a Christmas hat, decorating a Christmas tree, and exchange gifts with friends. The Christmas atmosphere fills the streets during the Christmas season.
Let’s look over what our key vocabulary words mean word by word.
圣诞节 (Shèngdànjié): Christmas Day
圣 (Shèng): The fourth tone, means holy
诞 (Dàn): The fourth tone, means birth
节 (Jié): The second tone, means festival
Zài Zhōngguó, wǒmen yìbān huì zài Shèngdànjié zhè tiān sòng píngguǒ gěi péngyǒu.
In China, we usually send apples to our friends as gifts on Christmas Day.
Xiǎomíng, Shèngdànjié zhè tiān nǐ ānpái le shénme yúlè huódòng ma?
Xiaoming, do you have any entertainment activities on Christmas Day?
Wǒ mǎi le yìxiē qìqiú lái zhuāngshì wǒmen de fángwū.
I bought some balloons to decorate our room.
Wish many good wishes for the coming year. Merry Christmas!
1. Why Chinese people give apples on Christmas Eve?
A. Because apples are cheap during Christmas.
B. Because they like eating apples.
C. Because giving apples means giving safety.