I love Christmas as a religious and cultural event. To be honest, I even prefer it to the Chinese New Year.
1) Greetings: Peace vs Money
At Christmas time, the greetings are generally ‘Merry Christmas’ or a ‘Happy New Year.’ People also wish you joy, peace and harmony. However, one of the most common greetings for the Chinese New Year is 恭喜发财 － ‘gōngxǐ fācái’ (or in Cantonese, Gong Hei Fat Choi). It means ‘Wishing you Wealth’. Many more Chinese New Year expressions are related to ‘money and prosperity’. Many Chinese New Year songs are all about ‘gōngxǐ fācái’, and ‘the god of wealth has arrived’. Money is important and the concept of wealth is so ingrained in the Chinese psyche.
2) Atmosphere: Calmness vs Bustling with noise and excitement
I’ve experienced Christmas as a calm and peaceful festival. However, the Chinese New Year is always bustling with noise and excitement, in or outside of your house. There is an expression in Chinese called 热闹 rènào, which is impossible to translate into English, as there is no such concept in the English language. 热闹 rènào can be vaguely translated as ‘bustling with joy, noise and excitement; heat and boisterous’. Deborah Fallows, in her fabulous book, Dreaming in Chinese, described 热闹 rènào is ‘the default mode of Chinese social life’. The Chinese way of life is not about your personal space, it’s all about ‘togetherness’. If I try to use one word to summarise my Chinese New Year experiences, the word would be ‘noise’.
How do the Chinese people celebrate Christmas? This post from The Washington Post tells you 8 fascinating facts:
Shopping, Karaoke and apple: Christmas in China
According to the writer Max Fisher, in China,
1. Christmas is treated more like Saint Patrick’s Day or Valentine’s Day.
2. Chinese Christians still face restrictions against a Western-style holiday.
3. There is a “war on Christmas” in China.
4. Fancy, cellophane-wrapped ‘Christmas apples’ are a common gift.
5. Jesus who? It’s all about Santa (and his “sisters”).
6. In China, Santa Claus is often shown playing the saxophone.
7. Chinese state media now brags that China makes American Christmas possible.
8. A 19th century Chinese Christian leader claimed to be Jesus’s brother, then started a civil war.
Follow this link to read the full article.
I’ve been in England for 15 years now, yet there are still new things about Christmas I find each year. I thought I have known all I need to know about Christmas, yet there are always surprises. Here are some of the facts that I’ve gathered over the years:
1) Christmas List:
It’s a list-loving nation. People love their shopping list, Christmas to do list, and the most important list of all, is a Christmas card list. In Britain, there’s an expression that you’re either ‘on someone’s Christmas list’ or you get ‘crossed off’ someone’s Christmas list. If your distant relative hasn’t sent you a Christmas card for 2 consecutive years, do you still send him one — now that a second class stamp is worth 50p? Do you go the extra mile to send your old friend or foe a card?
The Christingle service is foreign to me. I’d never heard of it until two years ago. Last weekend, in our local Church of England, there was a candlelit Christingle service. Children were each given an orange and messages of peace and prayers were said. They passed on the candle flame and it was an extremely moving scene to observe how children were taught the message of peace in this simple ritual. Christingle was introduced by The Children’s Society in 1968 to the Church of England, and money is raised to support vulnerable children.
Christingle for Christmas: Symbolism of orange, red ribbon, dried fruits and lit candle.
- The orange – represents the world
- The red ribbon – indicates the love and blood of Christ
- The dried fruits and sweets – symbols of God’s creations
- The lit candle – symbolises Jesus, the light of the world
In Oxford, a santa was sacked from his job in a grotto recently because he told 3 happy children about the horrible US school massacre. Not only that, the santa also told the kids that he was not real.
This ‘bad’ santa didn’t do what he was told.
The siblings (aged 10, 7, 6) bursted into tears. They now know the horrible truth that santa is not real, and perhaps it means that their innocence is lost forever, due to the big mouth of this santa who hasn’t read his job description well. Their parents were furious. The santa was sacked. Luckily the parents got their refund from the garden centre. (£5.99 for each child to see a Santa in a grotto. Inflation, you see? It used to be £2.)
It often amazes me that in the West, there is such a tradition of lying to small children about the existence of santa. I also lied to my son too about the santa until he asked me to stop it about 2 years ago. He still wants presents, of course, but now he thinks the story of santa is a bit embarrassing.
It’s interesting to see how a child blossoms as he starts unraveling your lies. He laughs at your seriousness about the tooth fairy, fairy at the bottom of the garden, the Easter bunny and your lame joke about the santa.
Some people think it’s stupid or even immoral to lie to kids. I feel however that these silly lies (or stories that we make up) are harmless. I don’t think children will be scarred for life once they’ve found out the truth. The most wonderful thing is that these silly lies/stories/myths bring a sense of longing to the kids and bring them hope, dream and imaginations.
Last month, I asked my son to make me a Mother’s Day card.
“Do I have to?” “Yes, Darling!”
My Mother’s Day card
Mother’s Day card with a creature
Tangerine Tango — Pantone colour of the year 2012
Hand-made cards by Ben were popular
Ben made Christmas cards with great details
Lovely Christmas cards!
He used my stamp set ‘Fruit & Flowers’ and he chose his main colour — Tangerine Tango.
I was excited. Tangerine Tango is the Pantone 2012 Colour of the Year. I love this vibrant, energetic colour.
Tangerine Tango -- Pantone colour of the year 2012
He drew an unknown creature inside. But why does this scary looking creature have to do with me?
“Don’t know. I just feel like it!’ Continue reading