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Religion is not looked upon by the government of China as an important aspect of life, meaning Christmas is not a recognised public holiday throughout the country. Despite the government's attitude most people in China do celebrate the holiday as a fun reason to give gifts and celebrate, although most Chinese people do not know the reasons the holiday is celebrated by Christians.
In China the Christian religion is only allowed to be practised in state approved churches under strict controls, according to the BBC. Despite the strict controls on religion in China, Christianity is thought to be one of the fastest growing religions in the country with the government claiming 25 million of the population are practising Christians; other groups place the real number of Christians in China at around 60 million. Despite the low overall number of Christians being low Christmas has become of the most fashionable holidays in China and is celebrated in a similar way to Christmas in the UK and US.
Christmas has become a popular holiday for Chinese people who were born after 1980s and is now one of the most important seasons for China's economy, according to the BBC. Large cities throughout China have their retail outlets decorated with Christmas trees and traditional western Christmas decorations; Father Christmas type figures can be found in shopping center's and in shops. Gifts are purchased by Christian and non Christian families, with many purchasing smaller gifts for children as the large gift giving festival of the Chinese New year follows soon after Christmas.
For Christian families in China traditional Christmas decorations are adapted to a Chinese style and include traditional local materials, according to Santa's Net. Houses are decorated with a Christmas tree known as a tree of light that is covered in traditional Chinese paper lanterns and flowers found in local regions. As in other countries Christian families are visited by a figure closely identified as Santa Claus or Father Christmas; in China the gift giver is known as Dun Che Lao Ren, or Christmas Old Man. As in western countries stockings are hung for gifts to be placed into on Christmas morning.
Many Chinese people follow traditional western Christmas celebrations with large parties often thrown on Christmas Eve. Alongside the exchanging of gifts many Chinese people entertain their extended families with expensive meals and large amounts of alcohol for adults. Christmas in China has also become a hotbed of festivals and shows highlighting traditional Chinese culture; these festivals and shows include acrobats and other circus style performers. In a bid to copy US and UK culture the majority of Chinese people wish each other Merry Christmas in the English language, according to the BBC.
- Feng Li/Getty Images News/Getty Images