Holiday Traditions of China "Merry Christmas"

China’s small population of Christians call Christmas Sheng Dan Jieh, or Holy Birth Festival. They decorate their homes with evergreen plants, posters, bright paper chains, and a Christmas tree, which they call a Tree of Light, adorned with paper lanterns, flowers, and red paper chains that symbolize happiness. They cut out red pagodas to paste on their windows and light their houses with paper lanterns.

In China, Santa Claus is known as Sheng Dan Lao Ren, Old Christmas Man, or Lan Khoong-Khoong, Nice Old Father. On Christmas Eve, children hang up their muslin stockings so Santa can fill them with gifts.  

Christmas is mostly celebrated in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, which are decorated with festive Christmas trees, colored lights, garlands and wreaths, and other decorations around the holiday season. Many young Chinese will attend Christmas parties, and young couples will give each other gifts, like on Valentine’s day. Others celebrate with a big Christmas dinner at a restaurant. 

In Hong Kong, people also celebrate Ta Chiu around this time, a festival of renewal and peace. They make offerings to saints and read the names of everybody who lives in the area.

Another tradition that’s becoming popular is giving apples on Christmas Eve, because in Chinese, Christmas Eve is called Ping’an Ye, meaning peaceful or quiet evening, and the Mandarin word for apple is pingguo, which sounds like the word for peace.

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