Christmas is just around the corner and for many people in the west that means spending time with family, gaining a few extra kilos from festive feasting, and perhaps a visit to church to celebrate the religious significance of the holiday season.
In China, things are a little different.
While you can expect China’s big cities to have Christmas lights, Christmas trees and Santa decorations strung up in shopping centres with carols playing overhead, that doesn’t mean that Chinese people celebrate it in the same way.
One Valentine’s Day is enough for most countries around the world, but in China there are six. Yet Chinese couples choose to include Christmas as another novelty occasion to celebrate their love.
As a mainstream international day of celebration, brands in China harness Christmas to market their products by offering discounts to bargain-hungry customers.
Young people are the main group that take advantage of this opportunity, scouring sales items to pick up gifts for their friends or significant other, either online or in-store.
In the week leading up to Christmas last year, “Christmas gifts for girlfriend,” “Christmas gifts” and “Christmas gift box” were amongst the most searched terms on Taobao by Chinese consumers in several provinces around the country.
Token Christmas gifts in the west may include a pair of socks or a scented candle. In China, it’s an apple wrapped in cellophane or printed with Christmas greetings.
The common name for apple in Mandarin (píng guŏ 苹果) sounds similar to the Chinese word for ‘peace’ (píng ān平安), so it’s not surprising that apples are sometimes known as ‘peaceful fruit’ (píng ān guŏ 平安果) in China. Gifting apples to loved ones is a uniquely Chinese Christmas tradition and symbolises your hope that you are bringing them peace.
Expats craving a hot roast for Christmas lunch or dinner can find specialty buffet options at upscale hotels, but Chinese consumers are more likely to be focused on food aesthetics rather than enjoyinng traditional Christmas tastes. In China, snacks like fruit, vegetables, biscuits and cheese can be found delicately arranged into shapes like Christmas trees, wreaths or snowmen.
Even though Christmas is not a public holiday in Mainland China, young Chinese still treat it as a great excuse to spread their wings and travel.
For travel inspo, Chinese Millennials and Gen Z flock to MaFengWo, a platform to share their experiences and recommendations. From Las Vegas and Zurich, to Edinburgh and Finland, MaFengWo shows that Chinese globetrotters enjoy travelling far and wide internationally to celebrate Christmas with all the bells and whistles.
But with the pandemic keeping many international borders firmly shut over the festive season, it’ll be a time where those Chinese who are keen to travel will do so domestically. Guangzhou was the most-searched destination in China for Christmas travel in 2019, with Jinan, Qingdao, Beijing and Changsha also making the top five.
Aside from intercity visits, Disney parks are a popular choice amongst Chinese. With changing decorations, memorabilia, costumes and activities, Disney offers the perfect costume celebration at Christmas.
As 2020 draws to a close, and Chinese friends gift one another peace apples, the team at China Skinny would like to wish you a peaceful festive season, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We look forward to starting 2021 and the exciting new opportunities that it will bring for your business in China.