Christmas XMAS in China

Then: Christmas in China

XMAS China then treesWhen I arrived in the mainland in 2003, Christmas in China was a unique blend of tradition, cultural exchange, and modern festivities. While never a public holiday, Christmas had gained popularity in urban centers, and its celebration reflected the diverse cultural landscape of this vast country. While Christmas was widely celebrated, its religious significance was always downplayed. In a country where practicing religion is largely banned, the focus was on the festive aspects of the holiday rather than its religious roots.

Cultural Fusion: In major cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, Christmas was celebrated as a cultural event rather than a religious one. Shopping malls and streets adorned with festive decorations create a lively atmosphere. The fusion of Western and Chinese elements, such as Christmas trees alongside traditional red lanterns, reflected the nation’s openness to embracing diverse cultural practices, at the time..

Christmas was heavily associated with shopping and gift-giving. The commercial aspect of the holiday took center stage, with businesses capitalizing on the festive season to boost sales. Malls were elaborately decorated, and storefronts showcased Christmas-themed merchandise, creating a vibrant and consumer-driven atmosphere. Younger generations, especially in urban areas, saw Christmas as an occasion to exchange gifts, decorate homes, and enjoy festive meals. Western-style Christmas markets also became popular, offering a range of seasonal treats, decorations, and entertainment.

In the digital age, social media platforms played a significant role in shaping holiday celebrations. Many people shared their festive experiences, decorations, and meals online, contributing to a sense of shared joy and creating a virtual community that transcends geographical boundaries. Christmas in mainland China found a place in the hearts of many Chinese people as a time for joy, togetherness, and the celebration of shared values.

Now: Unwrapping Reality: Christmas Ban

At times, the restriction on Christmas has been linked to anti-Western sentiments. As China asserts its cultural identity and national pride, some officials may perceive Western celebrations, including Christmas, as symbolic of foreign influence that needs to be curtailed to ‘safeguar’d domestic values.

China Xmas Ban News HeadlinesWith the rapid rise in the war against foreign culture in the past couple of years, various powers that be have been systematically making Christmas/Santa/joy all but illegal. While administrations historically have been happy to turn a blind eye as long as they did not “create trouble” for local authorities, the current administration has taken a very hardline approach.

It’s crucial to note that the implementation of restrictions on Christmas varies across regions and cities. While some areas may enforce limitations, others may be more permissive or even enthusiastic about embracing the festive season. For example, Shanghai currently tends to turn a blind eye.

Despite restrictions in many parts of China, some citizen in certain major urban centers, continue to celebrate Christmas in a more subdued manner. Private gatherings, gift exchanges, and festive decorations are still common, reflecting the adaptability and resilience of individuals in the face of changing cultural landscapes.

It’s Complicated

The reasons behind such measures are complex, encompassing a range of political, cultural, and social factors. Understanding the nuances of this situation sheds light on the evolving dynamics between the Chinese government, cultural traditions, and global influences.

Communist Party officials have been instructed to “resist the rampant Western festival.” The China Communist Youth League wrote on social media that “Christmas is China’s Day of shame” and represents a latter-day invasion by the West.

Starting in 2019, schoolchildren in many regions in Chinese schools must swear an oath of allegiance to not be part of the “foreign festival” or do anything on December 25 that is related to Christmas. The oath includes the phrases “Chinese must not celebrate foreign festivals, I am not a citizen from the west, I will not participate in a foreign festival, I can no longer support foreign festivals, I am Chinese”.

The restriction on Christmas celebrations in China is not a uniform nationwide policy. Historically, China has been cautious about embracing foreign cultural and religious influences, stemming from a desire to maintain social and political stability to reinforce a sense of national identity and pride, emphasizing homegrown customs and celebrations.

santa claus on crossThe basic concept of Christmas (and Santa Claus) is largely lost on the Chinese, even those that are relatively fluent in English.

Distributed social media notices say that anyone caught holding Christmas sales or celebrations that blocked streets would be punished. About 100 million Communist Party members must reject foreign festivals and become “models of adherence to Chinese traditional culture“. Police circulated a notice to hotels, bars, and internet cafes that said: “It is forbidden to hang Christmas stockings, wear Christmas hats, place Christmas trees, and so on.

In 2019, the government offers financial rewards to people who report “illegal religious activities”, as authorities continue to crack down on gatherings. Chinese citizens can earn up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) for providing tip-offs about illicit groups. The country has since ramped up its restrictions on religious symbols and what it considers nasty elements of foreign culture in order to assert the state’s dominance.

I first experienced first-hand hatred and discontent towards a foreigner wanting to have a day of joy at Christmas when I was General Manager for a large new theatre initiative in Xi’an (at the site of the Terracotta Warriors & Horses) several years ago. One of the two investor groups senior management hated a foreigner being there, and for 9 months constantly were quite horrible to me, and specially called a “compulsory emergency” meeting on December 25, starting at 9am and planned until late the same day — I sat in the room alone, they never showed up — all in an effort to showcase their power of hatred and put down of Christmas joy.

The restrictions on Christmas in China highlight the intricate interplay between political considerations, cultural preservation, and global influences. As China asserts itself on the world stage, the nation grapples with finding a balance between embracing global traditions and safeguarding its own cultural heritage.

“Western Opium”

The disciplinary arm of the ruling Chinese Communist Party has banned its members and government officials from celebrating Christmas, likening the practice to western opium for members of the atheist party. A notice issued by the Commission for Discipline Inspection in the central province of Hunan warned officials not to engage in meals and gatherings on Christmas Eve, warning that those caught violating the rules would have to “bear responsibility“…


With the approach of Christmas, leaders and officials of all ranks must promote traditional Chinese culture and take on the task of building a spiritual home for the Chinese people.

They must earnestly study the doctrine of cultural self-confidence introduced at the 19th Party Congress, and refrain from blindly celebrating foreign festivals or engaging in Western religions.

They must not attend any celebrations of a Western origin, stampand carry out good security work on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Despite all this, China remains the Christmas manufacturing capital

There are approximately 600 factories in and surrounding the city of Yiwu (about an hour from Shanghai) which happen to be the manufacturer of roughly 80% of all Christmas decorations worldwide worth about USD $6 billion sold globally.

China Xmas Factory for Santa

The bans do not (yet) affect expats from what happens quietly in their own home, for example, our apartment in 2023 for the festive season…

Xingguo Mansion Christmas 2023

m o r e   x m a s

XMAS Santa Origins XMAS Santa Physics XMAS Santa Budget Cuts Featured Santa Logisitcs Enhancements XMAS World Featured XMAS in China v3 XMAS Christmas Music XMAS Symbols XMAS The Snowman

Father Christmas / Santa Clause Origins

Toby Simkin’s Broadway Entertainment, LLC
dba within China as: 沈途彬商务咨询(上海)有限公司

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