Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Around the World for Christmas – Lost in Translation

While traditional celebrations surround the birth of Jesus Christ as the reason for the season throughout the western civilization, the population of citizens who call themselves Christian in the People’s Republic of China only amount to 1-percent of the total population of the country. It is strictly forbidden for the Christians to worship in China, but they are tolerated to a degree. These one-percenters gather quietly in their homes to worship the reason that most of the rest of the world celebrates the holiday, while the other 99-percent of the population treat the holiday as if it were Valentine’s Day or St. Patrick’s Day. An excuse to get together, go ice skating, go to the movies or have friends over for dinner.

The Chinese are so commercialized that they have over-commercialized the celebration in their own country. While it is not a national holiday, and it is frowned upon and shunned in many sectors, those who embrace the holiday decorate and light up everything in their reach. They are not unlike a town full of Griswolds that make the neighbors cringe, but yet excite them enough to peek through closed drapes at the festive lights and ornaments. All the businesses and government offices are open on Christmas Day.

There are laws against caroling and heralding the Christ child, but there are no laws against shopping, and the Chinese treat Christmas Eve as the biggest shopping day of the year. Little children wait for Dun Che Lao Ren (Santa) to bring them presents while they sleep, and the malls are filled with Santa and his helpers. The helper thing got a little lost in the translation, however. The elves (known as sisters) turned into young ladies dressed in red leotards with a green spiked collar. Santa apparently likes jazz music Chinese-style because it is not uncommon to see Santa depicted playing a sax or a trumpet, although the origin of this particular custom is unknown.

Chinese Santa in red satin brocade jacket and 
hat with dark rust trousers and 'gold' slippers

Dun Che Lao Ren is the equivalent of Santa in the Chinese culture. His name means Christmas Old Man, and he is known to fill the muslin stockings of little children with toys and goodies.

Christmas in China is known as Spring Festival, which celebrates the children and the ancestors of the Chinese. There are gifts of clothing and many festive meals served and eaten. Because most of the country is not Christian, the celebration is more of a festival for all rather than the celebration of Jesus.

The Chinese government has embraced the act of Christmas by saying that the West could not celebrate Christmas if it were not for the importing of all those boxed Christmas ornaments and lights, and that the West should be grateful for the influx of the most generous gifts of the Chinese Santa.

It is very well-known how the Chinese have persecuted and eliminated the Christian population in their nation. This has eased up as the boundaries between the East and the West have been lessened, but there are plenty of places that Christians are still persecuted in China, so open celebration in the traditional sense is very limited. The celebration of Christmas has many traditionalists warning about the westernization of their culture. They should be concerned, because it is hard to isolate a country and its people in today’s world of the Internet and news programs. Christmas mass in the Catholic churches are becoming more popular as time goes by.

Wrapped traditional Christmas Apples for sale

Christmas apples are a tradition in China. The apples are gaily decorated and they came to be due to a strange translation from the words Christmas Eve into Mandarin. Apparently, it sounds like their word for apple, and in their enthusiasm to participate, they wrap apples.

The Chinese also do not adhere to the traditional removing of the decorations after the new year, so it is not uncommon to see the lights still up in time for the traditional Valentine’s Day.

 

It may be a quiet celebration for the Christians, but the rest of the Chinese do everything big and loud when they celebrate, so it is not a surprise that there are lights, parades, dragons, festivals, fireworks and noisemakers that come right along with the crowds of revelers. After all, if it were not for the Chinese, we would not have fun things like fireworks and paper.

While I hesitated to write about the Chinese Christmas because of the persecution, I was surprised to learn that the rest of the country apparently had no qualms about using it as an excuse to celebrate and has incorporated Santa into their Spring Festival. I believed that there would be no celebrations at all.

I was dismayed to learn that they felt that the only reason that the western civilizations were able to celebrate Christmas at all was because they shipped their cheap ornaments to us. The article that was written by the government controlled press was in retaliation for the American people’s distaste in the Made in China label and the reaction to it. The entire article can be read here http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90778/8068957.html

There are very distinct differences between the East and the West on this one, but it is nice to know that they enjoy the season as much as the rest of the world, and that they have lots and lots of lights and gifts.

Here are some gift ideas that will not have a foreign label on them. Give a gift that was made with love and not by machine.

ResetarGlassArt

Dichroic Glass Earrings, Handmade Fused Glass Yellow Gold Rectangles

Dichroic Glass Earrings, Handmade Fused Glass Yellow Gold Rectangles

BronzeAgeJewelry

Wire Wrapped Gold Indian Pendant Necklace, Wedding Jewelry, Crystal

Wire Wrapped Gold Indian Style Pendant Necklace, Wedding Jewelry, Swarovski Crystal

KevsKrafts

Handmade Bell Bulb Christmas Ornament White Ash Wood Gold Any Age Unisex

Handmade Bell Bulb Christmas Ornament White Ash Wood Gold Any Age Unisex

RSSDesignsInFiber

Bird of Peace Filet Crochet Lace in a Hanging Hoop Suncatcher Ornament

Bird of Peace Filet Crochet Primitive Style Ornament or Wall Hanging

DesertCreations

Gold, Purple, Black and Pink Polymer Clay Drop Earrings Handmade

Gold, Purple, Black and Pink Polymer Clay Drop Earrings Handmade

SewAmazin

Dark Autumn Maple Leaves Collar Slipcover or Scrunchie Bandana

Dark Autumn Maple Leaves Collar Slipcover or Scrunchie Bandana

KatsAllThat

Gold Filigree and Swarovski Crystal Golden Shadow Gold Earrings

Gold Filigree and Swarovski Crystal Golden Shadow Gold Earrings

cardsbylibe

Poinsettia Flower With Green Leaves Handcrafted Christmas Card

Poinsettia Flower With Green Leaves Handcrafted Christmas Card

bluemorningexpressions

Handcrafted Polymer Clay Faux Pearl Clip On Earrings

Handcrafted Polymer Clay Faux Pearl Clip On Earrings

hollyknittercreations

Hand Knit Yellow All Cotton Butterfly Baby Picture Wash Cloth

Hand Knit Yellow All Cotton Butterfly Baby Picture Wash Cloth

RokkiHandbags

Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles Book Purse from Blood and Gold

Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles Book Purse from Blood and Gold

postcardsintheattic

Big Letter California Postcard - Handmade - Large Letter - State Souvenir

Big Letter California Postcard - Handmade - Large Letter - State Souvenir

artbysunfire

laminated index card personal planner for teacher, mom, student 177

laminated index card personal planner for teacher, mom, student 177

ChristieCottage

Vintage Pearl Earrings, Dangle, Clip ons, Gold

Vintage Pearl Earrings, Dangle, Clip ons, Gold

specialtivity

Handmade Almond Glass Pearl Gold Seed Bead Woven Bracelet

 Handmade Almond Glass Pearl Gold Seed Bead Woven Bracelet

Gingers-Garden

Gold Digger Handmade Artisan Soap cold process with mica

Gold Digger Handmade Artisan Soap cold process with mica

Dreamcatcherman

Pretty in Pink is a tribute to Breast Cancer awareness month

Pretty in Pink is a tribute to Breast Cancer awareness month

Umeboshi

Beautiful Fused Glass Dichroic Color Changing Pendant and Earrings set

Beautiful Fused Glass Dichroic Color Changing Pendant and Earrings set

adorebynat

Bumble Bee Cupcake Toppers for Birthday or Baby Shower or Any Party

Bumble Bee Cupcake Toppers for Birthday or Baby Shower or Any Party

Covergirlbeads

Galloping Horse With Topaz Swarovski Crystals Goldtone Dangle Earrings

Galloping Horse With Topaz Swarovski Crystals Goldtone Dangle Earrings

evezbeadz

Gold Celtic Cross Earrings

Gold Celtic Cross Earrings

craftsofthepast

Nine Karat Gold Pendant on Jade and Garnet Handmade Chain

Nine Karat Gold Pendant on Jade and Garnet on Handmade Chain Necklace

jnldesigns

Handmade Rhodochrosite,Rose Quartz,and Rose Gold Charm Bracelet

Handmade Rhodochrosite,Rose Quartz,and Rose Gold Charm Bracelet

craftingmemories

Wire Wrapped Spiral Choker style necklace

Wire Wrapped Spiral Choker style necklace

PrettyGonzo

Green and Gold Pearl Earrings Handmade Elegant Dangles Beaded Jewelry

Green and Gold Pearl Earrings Handmade Elegant Dangles Beaded Jewelry

Wyverndesigns

Welcome to Autumn Copper and Gold Acorn Earrings Polymer Clay

Welcome to Autumn Copper and Gold Acorn Earrings Polymer Clay

Thesingingbeader

Gold square swirly pattern puffy metal bead linked bracelet adjustable

Gold square swirly pattern puffy metal bead linked bracelet adjustable

PutmanLakeDesigns

Yellow/Cream Striped Table Runner w/ Hot Pink Heart Flowers

Yellow/Cream Striped Table Runner w/ Hot Pink Heart Flowers

ShadowDogDesigns

Golden Bronze Handmade Earrings Czech Glass Crystals Beaded Jewelry

Golden Bronze Handmade Earrings Czech Glass Crystals Beaded Jewelry

ThaddeusRose

Glass Bead Embroidered Gemstone Pendant 21 Inch Necklace Toggle Clasp

Glass Bead Embroidered Gemstone Pendant 21 Inch Necklace Toggle Clasp

TheOldBarnDoor

Golden Bell and Mistletoe on Vintage Arthur Capper Christmas Postcard

Golden Bell and Mistletoe on Vintage Arthur Capper Christmas Postcard

dianesdangles

Citrine Nugget Gold Wire Wrapped Pendant

Citrine Nugget Gold Wire Wrapped Pendant

BrendasCraftStore

Girls Winter Hat in Bright Yellow/Gold

Girls Winter Hat in Bright Yellow/Gold

ElunaJewelry

Small Gold Hoops, Gold Filled Hoop Earrings, Gold Reverse Hoop Earrings

Small Gold Hoops, Gold Filled Hoop Earrings, Gold Reverse Hoop Earrings

jazzitupwithdesignsbynancy

Riverstone Gemstone Brass black brown Handmade

Riverstone with Brass, black and brown Earrings

 

Since we can thank the Chinese for things like fireworks, paper, tea, hot air balloons, embroidery, money, brandy, the wheelbarrow, cast iron, the compass, movable type, guns, porcelain, kites, matches, helicopter rotors, odometer, umbrellas, paddle wheels and operas, we can also thank them for the opportunity to see how they do things in their country as we move on to our next destination. Drink a cup of herbal tea, which they also invented, and let’s all get back into the sleigh.

Enjoy

Julie and Blu

23 comments:

  1. Interesting read. I think it's rather funny that the Chinese believe that we get to celebrate because of all the imports. Thanks for including my striped table runner..... all nice shades of yellow. Waiting to see where we land next week!

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  2. Very educational blog as usual. I am glad that Christmas makes so many cultures joyous! Joy to the World!
    Anna

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  3. As always, a very fascinating post. Like Ann, I am amazed and rather tickled that the Chinese think their imports is what keeps Christmas alive here. Gotta propagandize wherever you can, I guess. A very interesting read and I learned a lot. And you sure picked so many handmade/vintage golden themed items - thank you for including my earrings (: Seamus (and I) are very intrigued where our next trip will be. Belly rubs to the handsome Blu from his desert doggy friend. Thanks again, Julie.

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  4. Interesting and educational post, and lovely selection of handmade creations, thank you for including my citrine nugget pendant, will share.

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  5. Excellent post, Julie! Both interesting and informative. Makes me even more thankful to live in America.

    Thank you, Julie, for another great blog post.

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  6. Gorgeous items! Thanks so much for including my earrings. Great post!

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  7. Interesting reading about the Chinese and their beliefs and the celebration of Christmas. Thank you for showing my bracelet!

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  8. I always so enjoy your writing and never fail to learn something. And, the golden treasures you have presented us with - well, where do I begin? Stunning collection

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  9. I agree - "Give a gift that was made with love and not by machine."!! I do not mean to be disrespectful, but maybe we could do without the machine-made decorations from China! But I have read about Chinese traditions since I was a kid -- there are some very nice cultural things from China, too -- and some of them are Handmade, LOL! Nice informative article! Thanks for including my Hanging "Bird of Peace" - I truly wish for International Peace and a sharing and understanding of all the interesting cultures in the world!

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  11. Thank you for this very interesting post, Julie and beautiful Blu! And for such great selections of gift ideas. Thanks too for including my earrings among such beauties. :) Gonze sends wishes for lots of yummy treats to Blu!

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  12. What an awesome message to give a gift that someone has poured their heart and passion into...nothing on this earth no matter where you live like it! Thank you so much Julie for putting together this blog and doing the research to inform us about how other countries celebrate Christmas, very interesting! Thank you also for including my bracelet, I will happily share.

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  13. Interesting article! Thanks for sharing so many unique handcrafted items with everyone. Off to share...

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  14. Thank you for sharing Christmas in China and thank you for including my wire wrapped spiral choker.

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  15. What a truly fascinating look into China's Christmas (or not) celebrations. I agree with you about the part of western civilization and Christmas ornaments! Great post and thanks so much for including my poinsettia card :)

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  16. Thank you for another intriguing blog post - and for including Penny and our autumn bandana!

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  17. Thank you for the informative post! I have lived in both Eastern and Western countries and I am thankful to taste the freedom we have in Canada. We need to take more precautions when we are in Indonesia, something that we need to keep in mind at anytime. Thankfully, Christmas celebration as the celebration of Jesus Christ is still properly done here. Thank you for including my Bee Toppers.

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  18. Wow, who knew! I don't know where you find the time to research all of this information but I just love it. The photos in China are so colorful. Thank you for the great article, and for including my gold filigree earrings.

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  19. I have added to my blog, shared in multiple groups on FaceBook and Twitter.

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  20. Very interesting read. I hope many will take your advice and buy handmade gifts for the holidays. Thank you for including my dichroic glass earrings :) Will share -

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  21. Tank you for the interesting post!

    Jesus is the reason!

    <><

    I tweeted this
    See http://bmebluprint.blogspot.com/2013/10/around-world-for-christmas-lost-in.html from Julie & Blu #bmecountdown

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  22. This is another interesting post in your series of Christmas around the World. I am not surprised that the holiday in China are a blend of sacred and secular traditions. That has been happening for centuries all around the world in every culture including the West.

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  23. Missed this one, too, so catching up on these interesting posts now just a few weeks before Christmas. Of course the true meaning of Christmas can be celebrated without all the trimmings, and I'm sure that true Christians in China, and around the world, worship the King regardless.

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