Monday, December 24, 2007

Chinese Non-Xmas

Yesterday was the university Christmas party. We started off with a great lunch at a very nice restaurant nearby. It was really nice to meet some of the faculty at one of the other graduate schools in the area. I did find it amusing that out of the three foreigners in attendance at lunch, none of us celebrates Christmas. We enjoyed the lunch and conversation anyway. One of the dishes had a huge carrot sculpted into an old fisherman--my co-worker wanted to take it home, but the restaurant wouldn't allow it.

Later, there was a small party in the lobby of the administration building. My co-worker didn't attend, so I was the lone "white" foreigner. Almost everyone in attendance was Chinese. The only others were the six Pakistani students. Again, there was no one who actually celebrates Christmas. I had a great time talking to the Pakistanis about their recent move to China and their work. They were really nice and happy to find someone with whom they could speak English. They also told me how disappointed they were that the library has very few English texts for them because their Chinese isn't good enough to use what the other students read.

For those of you wondering about Christmas in China, I would like to say that America has nothing on China when it comes to commercializing a holiday. All the shops are open longer on Christmas Day for the people to spend their hard-earned Renminbi. There is no religion attached to Christmas here--it is celebrated by the middle and upper classes as an international holiday. Most people here have no idea that it's one of the most important religious days (which explains why most schools make foreign teachers work today).

Well, Merry Christmas to my Christian friends out there.


C.l.i.c.H.e G.a.L said...

just wanna ask ... i heard that christians are persecuted in China..Is it really true that there are no churches in china?

Matthew said...

Christians are not persecuted in China. It is an officially recognized religion here (along with Buddhism, Islam, Taoism, and one or two more that I can't remember). Supposedly, the main restriction is that foreigners and Chinese are not allowed to attend the same church (I have also been told this may not be the case). The main problem is that China has laws against converting people. The only Christians who have difficulty with the law are the missionaries who come to convert people.