Friday, December 26, 2008
Christmas Shopping in Beijing
Christmas Images in Beijing
The Chinese Christmas ambiance is a relentless focus on Santa Claus. For those who think the US has disconnected the holiday from its deeper meaning, come to China. While there may be Christmas carols with religious themes playing faintly in the background, it is fairly clear that in most venues Christmas as celebrated in Beijing has absolutely no connection to its religious roots. Many, if not most, stores will plaster Santas on the doors and window. Waiters and waitresses often wear red hats. Many stores have Christmas trees. As with the US, the goal is to put the consumer in a good mood so they will buy more. A great many people do not know that Christmas is a Christian religious holiday. It is oddly disconcerting.
Yet despite of (or because?) the commercial focus on Christmas is so strong and independent of its religious meaning, the South Cathedral appeared to have no compunction about putting a Santa Clause on the door of the cathedral. The church itself has a strong and enthusiastic congregation, so it does not appear to be “Catholicism light.” Yet you would rarely see a Santa in a Catholic Church in the US. Go figure….
We did manage to find a Santa in the basement of the Sanlitun Shopping Center. Santa had his beard down and was text-messaging as we approached. Business was not brisk. When he saw us he pulled up the beard, stashed the phone and managed to look jolly without saying a word. We don’t think he understood English. But we give him an A+ for effort.