Things to Know About Christmas in China

Christmas has arrived in China and we’re ready to celebrate! Despite not being as popular as traditional Chinese lunar holidays like Mid-Autumn and Spring festival, the storied date of December 25th has come to take on its own special role in the Chinese holiday calendar. Over the past several decades more and more Chinese have converted to Christianity; this is particularly true among younger Chinese generations eager to get a taste of Western culture. Thus, Christmas has received a warm welcome in the Middle Kingdom.

Chinese people dressed for Christmas

During the days and weeks leading up to Christmas, it’s very common for Chinese students of all ages to exchange Christmas cards, wear costumes and get into the holiday spirit. As a unique Christmas Eve tradition, many young couples present each other with red apples, a custom born out of the Mandarin word for Christmas Eve, which sounds similar to the word for apple. Friends and family members might also take advantage of holiday sales and give each other small gifts, some even purchasing faux Christmas trees to adorn their living rooms. If you find yourself in China during Christmas time, keep your eyes peeled for restaurants offering 八宝鸭 (bā bǎo yā, eight treasures duck), duck stuffed with chicken, ham, shrimp and more — a Chinese-style Christmas dinner!

Chinese people dressed as Santa playing Chinese drums

Chinese people dressed for Christmas

(China Photos — Getty Images — Washington Post)

Here’s what else to expect if you’re in China during the Christmas season:

  • servers, salesclerks, and other attendants may be wearing holiday-themed costumes
  • malls, restaurants, and public places will be playing those oh-so-familiar Christmas tunes — learn how to sing ‘jingle bells’ in Chinese
  • shops of all kinds may be holding special sales, selling winter clothes and seasonal products at massive discount prices
  • public squares and walking streets may be decorated with twinkling lights, red streamers, or even decorated Christmas trees
  • some international restaurants, schools or offices may be closed in observance of Christmas

Chinese woman posing with mechanical Santa while older man sits in nearby oversized ornament

(PhotoThe Atlantic)

Electronic Christmas tree shop in China

(Photo by Dave Tacon/Al Jazeera)

Learn to Sing Jingle Bells in Mandarin

Christmas Themed Chinese Flashcards:

Chinese vocabulary flashcards-Christmas
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-Christmas tree
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-white Christmas
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-candy cane
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-gingerbread man
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-gingerbread house
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-stocking
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-reindeer
Chinese vocabulary flashcards-snowman

Additional Christmas Vocabulary:

Hànzì pīnyīn Definition
1. 圣诞节 shèng dàn jié Christmas
2. 圣诞夜 shèngdàn yè Christmas eve
3. 白色圣诞 bái sè shèng dàn White Christmas
4. 圣诞快乐 shèngdàn kuàilè Merry Christmas
5. 圣诞树 shèngdànshù Christmas tree
6. 拐杖糖 guǎizhàng táng candy cane
7. 礼物 lǐ wù gift/present
8. 圣诞袜 shèngdàn wà stocking
9. 圣诞红 shèngdàn hóng Poinsettia
10. 姜饼屋 jiāng bǐng wū gingerbread house
11. 圣诞卡 shèngdànkǎ Christmas card
12. 圣诞老人 shèngdàn lǎorén Santa Claus
13. 雪橇 xuěqiāo sleigh
14. 麋鹿 mílù reindeer
15. 基督教徒 jī dū jiào tú Christian
16. 雪人 xuě rén snowman
17. 姜饼人 jiāng bǐng rén gingerbread man
18. 报佳音 bàojiāyīn caroling

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