I know Christmas has come and gone, but I've been meaning to address the topic for a while and I think we're all still in the holiday afterglow anyway. My friend Ned asked what the representations of Santa and other Christmas-related things are like in China and it's actually pretty interesting.
This season, at least in Northeast China, Christmas paraphernalia was everywhere. I found this odd, seeing as most of the people I meet are either Buddhists or non-religious. I asked Lucy about it and she said it's a modern, youth-driven desire to adopt Western customs.
Teachers at the DUT Kindergarten decorate their Christmas tree.
Santa Claus on a bicycle in Harbin.
Truthfully, I think being Jewish gives me a different perspective on this phenomenon. While many young Chinese (and probably most Americans) view Christmas as a commercialized, secularized, holiday-for-everyone, I've never felt that way. I really enjoy the Christmas season (snow! music! magic! "It's A Wonderful Life"!), but I never believed in Santa Claus as a child and I always viewed Christmas as a religious holiday. A fun, wintry holiday that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ. So in a nation of non-Christians, it does strike me as a little bizarre.
That being said, Dalian and Harbin are both cities with a fair amount of expatriates and cosmopolitan influence so the cities might be catering to that. I'd be curious what it's like in the rest of China. Hannah, any comments on the Hangzhou Christmas scene?