Decoration yes, but misunderstood
Beginning in December, shopping centers are bursting with Christmas decoration. Many restaurants decorate their windows and walls with the trendy wintry splendor. But the fact, that they won´t get rid of it until summer or even keep it all year round, sometimes accompanied by Jingle Bell’s cacophony, seems a bit odd and makes clear that Christmas in China is something completely different and often misunderstood. On the other hand, not understood only from a Western point of view. China is taking on things it deems useful and is creating something new of it. So what!
And so, next to the aquarium in the restaurant, from which you choose your lunch, there is a Santa Claus with reindeer and a saxophone.
Because in China Santa Claus, often dancing due to the battery in his butt, plays saxophone. Many theories have been put forward as to why a saxophone playing Santa is one of the most popular Christmas decorations. Some suspect Christmas conquered China just when Bill Clinton, known not only for his love of cigars, but also for the saxophone, established a good relationship with China. Others believe that the saxophone is regarded by many Chinese as a typical Western instrument. And since Santa is somehow western and hip, he must play saxophone. Imagine if the bagpipe was perceived as trendy!
Typical Chinese customs at Christmas
An amusing kind of Christmas decoration and gift is the lowly apple. Apples are one of the most popular gifts during Christmas time. They are pompously packaged, and some are of sizes that look as if they come directly out of a nuclear reactor.
Chinese take a liking to language-based humor and ambiguity. The word for apple (Ping Gu´o) sounds like the word for silence/quiet/peaceful. Christmas Eve is called Ping’an Ye. So, the connection is made and the word for silence becomes an apple. Not the olive branch but the apple as a symbol of peace and tranquility.
In the USA, it is wrongly assumed, for whatever reason, that a glass vinegar cucumber hangs on German and Austrian Christmas trees. As a result, America has been to be the only place where glass and plastic cucumbers are attached to the tree. In this way, different traditions and variants of traditions develop in each culture.