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The Best Ways to Celebrate Christmas in China

Christmas songs on repeat, a definite chill in the air, possibly some snow, and lots of food and merry making. If you’re bored of the annual Christmas ritual and want to spend it in a slightly different way while still enjoying some elements of the festive cheer, plan for a getaway to China!

New Tradition, Old Roots

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Image Credit: Pixabay

Christmas in China isn’t as big of a deal as you may expect. It is by and large a festive season that’s celebrated in the more cosmopolitan cities.  While Christianity had taken root in China since the Tang Dynasty, at a time when international trade and exchange flourished. Only 5% of the population identify as Christian today. This may well change in the future as Christianity is one of the fastest growing religions in the country.

Today, as with many other capitalist countries in the world, Christmas seems to be more related to merry-making, gatherings, shopping, than it is celebrated as a religious event. And if every Christmas-celebrating country has its own unique traditions, China is not missing out on this aspect.

Peace out with apples

A custom that’s catching on is the giving of apples on Christmas Eve.  In Mandarin, Christmas Eve is known as Ping An Ye, which means a peaceful and calm evening. As the word for apple is Ping Guo, the fruit has since come to symbolize peace during Christmas and is often given as gifts between friends and family, much like how Mandarin oranges are exchanged during the Chinese New Year.

Where to get some Christmas Market Action

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Image Credit: inshallahfiles

Want to see how the Chinese celebrate Christmas? Head to Shanghai and Beijing and party with both locals and expats. Take a walk around the malls, and you’d be hearing Christmas carols on repeat, shops out to get your last penny with sales, Christmas dinner menus at nice restaurants, and of course lots of Christmas trees, decorations, and Santa Clauses with his pretty elves.

If all of these sound too overwhelmingly commercial for you, a slightly more atmospheric and European way to celebrate is to head to the Christmas Markets. Obviously, markets are what the Chinese would catch on to really well. 

Shangrila Hotel, Pudong, Shanghai

The hotel’s outdoor terrace transforms to become a Christmas Market every Friday and Saturday till Christmas Eve.  Indulge in some mulled wine, goulash, mince pies, and other delicious traditional Christmas treats. Christmas crafts are also on sale, and Santa will be making special appearances throughout the night too.

Kerry Centre Christmas Market, Shanghai

Right in the heart of the city is another Christmas Market that may get you into that festive mood. The beautiful center will be fully decorated with pretty Christmas lights, Pine trees, Christmas ornaments and the highlight is the 16-metre tall Christmas tree. With hot chocolate, delicacies, and kebabs in hand, take a break from Chinese food just for a bit.

Farm to Neighbors’ Christmas Market, Beijing

If you don’t equate Christmas shopping to crass mass produced goods, the Farm to Neighbor’s Christmas Market is where you want to be. For two weekends before and during Christmas, head down to find over 50 selected vendors and local producers from Farm to Neighbor’s farmers’ market, known for its range of handmade, natural, and eco-friendly products. There are even workshops for you to learn how to make your own Christmas gifts, if you want to more than just apple-giving. 

Disneyland Shanghai

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Image Credit:Wikimedia

Whether you have children or still have the kid in you, Disneyland Shanghai id a great way to soak in the Christmas atmosphere, if crowds don’t scare you. 

It’s not just Christmas that should sound attractive. If you’re a fan of theme parks and aim to visit every Disneyland in the world, then the one in Shanghai is a must-visit as it uses technology that isn’t in other Disney parks and is the biggest international park of the brand.

Disneyland Shanghai has just opened this year, so it’s the very first Christmas that the park will be celebrating. We’re sure it’d be a grand affair, and who doesn’t like a really good ride? 

Harbin, the real winter wonderland

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Image Credit: Wikimedia

Ditch the cities and look for the real winter wonderland in Harbin. This is quite literally, the coolest Christmas you’ll experience. Enjoy and be completely mind-blown by the artistic masterpieces of ice sculptors from around the world. Even though the official opening of the famed snow and ice festival is in the first week of January, the Christmas period is when the soft launch happens, and things heat up (not literally) with sculpting competitions. 

There are also opportunities to go skiing, sledding, and spend plenty of time huddling over hot pot dinners with your friends and loved ones. 

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Tilda is a happy sufferer of chronic wanderlust. When she isn't spending a disproportionate amount of time Googling about places and cultures, she's writing, dancing, and navigating a massive career change. She shares stories and photography on Wanderful People, and shares her coffee with no one.

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