Around this time every year, foreign papers typically have articles about incidents such as arrests in China for selling Christmas paraphernalia, churches being shut down, the odd university banning Christmas and even Tencent culling its raining Christmas trees on WeChat. However, this year, there doesn’t appear to be messaging intended to curb the magic of Chrimbo in the Middle Kingdom.
Even without the Grinches trying to scuttle the festival, with the geopolitical challenges, rising nationalism and the continued isolation of Chinese travellers, you’d think that Christmas celebrations may be a little more subdued in China this year. But stepping out from the Skinny office in Shanghai, there is no mistaking that the traditionally-Western holiday is close.
China’s streets are filled with festive monuments that would outclass many cities in the world. Shopping streets and malls are festooned with towering Christmas trees, winter wonderland popups, festive light installations and even the occasional snow maker to add to the atmosphere. Many city blocks are adorned with the sweet scent of mulled wine and Christmas markets are as crowded as ever.
It isn’t just foreign brands who are decorating their stores with Santas and fake snow, there are plenty of local stores peddling the Christmas goodwill. Even the state-owned bank ICBC just by our Shanghai office is getting into the swing of things with a tree in the window. And there is the occasional, endearing piece of Chinglish reminding you that you aren’t in Lapland.
If a stroll down the street isn’t enough to signal that the Yuletide season is nigh, the twinkling decorations are selfie-bait for young and old, ensuring that China’s social media feeds are full of the festive spirit. For readers who haven’t been to China in a while, we’ve put together a short video so you can see some of the more Christmassy things happening in Shanghai at the moment.
Despite numerous commentaries on Guochao, or ‘Chinese Chic’, Chinese consumers’ embracing of Christmas is another reminder that many things Western remain attractive to Chinese consumers, particularly when they are portrayed thoughtfully and respectfully.
Let’s hope this Christmas brings you plenty to celebrate and be thankful for, both and in out of China. This is the last Skinny for the year, but our office will remain open through most of the Western holidays, so please let us know if there is anything we can do to assist you in China. Have a Merry Christmas, and a happy and healthy 2022. We’ll see you on the other side!
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