“Dīng dīngdāng, dīng dīngdāng, Líng er xiǎng dīngdāng.”
“Jingle bells, jingle bells, Jingle all the way!”
A big Christmas tree welcoming visitors in front of Solana shopping center, Chaoyang, Beijing
The Mall Gate of Solana Park
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! But wait a minute, do all of those magical moments, the spectacular lighting, the crowds, the carol singers, the western festive spirit and goodwill to all men, etc. even apply in China, the ancient jewel of the far east? Quite simply, yes, they do!
Coca Cola Christmas ads decorate the streets of Sanlitun
Christmas decorations in Beijing’s student district, Wudaokou, Haidian.
Nowadays, Christmas in Beijing is a surprisingly spectacular sight. Enormous Christmas trees, department-store window displays, family walks, Christmas carols, the city is positively Christmassy. The busy streets are filled with seasonal street-vendors offering their Christmas-themed souvenirs and toys.
One of the more unusual sights when it comes to Christmas in Beijing is street-vendors selling little boxes with Christmas designs, shouting, “Ping An Guo, Ping An Guo” , with prices ranging between 10 – 15 RMB per box.
A Ping An Guo is just an ordinary apple that you usually can buy for 1 RMB each, wrapped in Christmas gift wrappers. Eating an apple during Christmas Eve has recently become a local tradition in Beijing.
Ping An Guo, a symbolic gift of a Peaceful Holy Night.
“Since Christmas Eve is a peaceful night, we eat apples during Christmas eve as “Apple” (Ping Guo, 苹果) is similar to “Peace” – (Ping An 平安) , so we give someone an apple as a gift to wish our family and friends a peaceful Christmas night,” says Mo, 19, a university student who sells Ping An Guo to earn some pocket money.
College Students selling Ping An Guo on Christmas Eve
In the middle of the throng of street vendors, a group of kids were singing Jingle Bells cheerfully in Chinese. With their Santa hats on, they roamed the famous Lucky Street in Chaoyang, Beijing, like a bunch of little elves. Liu and Ann, both five years-old, were little elves from Sanlitun Kindergarten this Christmas. On Christmas Eve every year, their school holds a Charity event where the students, guided by the teachers, go onto the street and sell Christmas hats and ornaments to pedestrians passing by. All profits go to local orphanage centers in Beijing.
Five year-0lds Liu and Ann, dressing as Santas and selling hats to pedestrians for a School Charity.
When asked what the most exciting thing about Christmas was, eating Christmas cookies or receiving present parents was not the answer: “I like being Santa in Christmas. I can give a lot of gifts to my friends. You can help me too,” says Ann, a five year-old French girl, in fluent Chinese.
Mrs Wang, 35, the children’s teacher, likes the message that the season spreads:
“Christmas is about sharing. We teach our kids to understand the importance of sharing with others. On Christmas day tomorrow we will give all of the profits to orphanage houses, the students will be able to share their love and care for others in the form of Christmas presents.“
Christmas is not a public holiday in China, nevertheless heartwarming crowds gather in Beijing and join in with the miraculous festival fun.
Line 10 Subway during rush-hour. Some people leave work early on Christmas Eve
A live performance in Solana Park, Chaoyang, attracts a lot of visitors
The Winter Wonderland of Beijing, Solana Park, Chaoyang
A frozen lake decorated with Christmas Lights
Perhaps you were one of the people in the pictures; perhaps you too can feel the magic of the moment. Whether you decide to spend the day inside curled up with loved ones, simply munching on some Ping An Guo with a cup of hot chocolate, going out into the streets and singing carols amongst the lights, or just prefer to drown in a lake of booze, we wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Shèngdàn Kuàilè！(Merry Christmas!)