Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Merry CHRISTmas!

My cleaning lady asked me the other day, "So is Christmas your new year celebration?"  I said, "No, we celebrate the new year on January 1."  She said, "Then what is Christmas?"  I said, "It is a religious holiday to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ."  She said, "Oh, so Jesus and Santa Claus."  I felt a little squirmy at this point, but I answered, "Well, no.  The holiday started out to celebrate the birth of Jesus, but then there was this man who went around doing good.  He was a "Saint".  So people started saying that he would bring gifts to your house.  But this holiday is really about Jesus Christ."  She just laughed.

You really can't blame her for misunderstanding.  Here in China, there is no mention of Jesus Christ during the holiday season.  You know...kind of the way the United States is going...   When I lived here 20 years ago, a friend of mine gave me a "pyramid candle" that had a nativity around it.  Then I was able to find a few embroidered tree ornaments that were religious in nature.  But other than that, there was no mention of Christianity during Christmas.  Even the word "Christmas" in Chinese does not have the name "Christ" in it.  And I have not been able to find a nativity here in China.  But I did find one in America last summer at a thrift store.  I specifically had been on the hunt for one so that I could bring it back for Christmas this year.  

So everything else in the stores this time of year has to do with Santa Claus.  Here is a picture of me at the grocery store with a Santa display.  It's a little blurry...my husband took it with his phone.

I wonder if the Chinese will ever really grasp the true meaning of Christmas.  And I wonder if Americans will lose it.


Rummuser said...

You want to see the true spirit of Christmas, you must visit India. There are many non Christians who celebrate it too.

Max Coutinho said...

Hi D,

Unfortunately, the true meaning of Christmas is dying everywhere. A few years ago, in Portugal, the Catholic Church was trying to convince Catholics to drop the Xmas tree and place a velvet cloth (with the Holy family embroidered on it - it has a name but I can't remember which one right now) on the window - result, wherever you went in Lisbon you could see those cloths in every window...but the trees were also there, glittering in the night lol.

Happy Festivities to you and your family, D.


Katie said...

Japan is a country that celebrates Christmas with Christmas trees and light but no nativity. When ask what do you do for Christmas the answer is, Christmas cake and Kentucky fried chicken. We plan to participation in the cake and chicken tradition here in Japan this year.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

I was reading up on Christmas on the internet yesterday and was astonished to learn that shepherds in Israel are unable to work outdoors at this time of year. So where did those shepherds come from in the Nativity story? The truth is that even if we celebrate the birth of the Savior on 25th December or January 6th if we are Christian Orthodox/Eastern rite, Jesus wasn't born at that time. The date of Christmas is much closer to Yuletide/Winter Solstice of the pre-Christian druidic faiths. In an increasingly secular world, secular symbols like the Coca Cola Santa claus rules. Christianity reached large areas of Europe as late as the 10th and 11th century, I believe and the tradition of decorating trees may have lingered from their pre-Christian customs. How spiritual we make our Christmas depends, I suppose, on ourselves.