Jianyu Hou Freelance writer based in Cleveland, OH, USA
(Chinese celebrating Christmas in Tian'anmen Square)
The Christmas of 2016 is approaching. More and more Chinese celebrate Christmas, most of whom non-Christians. They say, "Merry Christmas" in person and on social media. They send Christmas gifts to each other.
(A giant Christmas tree in front of a shopping mall in China)
Shopping malls decorate the front doors, selling Christmas trees and Santa Claus toys. You can see the "On Sale" signs hanging above the shelves in the name of celebrating Christmas. Many online stores display large banners in the prominent positions, reminding the visitors of the Christmas sale. Social media, such as WeChat, QQ, and Weibo, release new emoji and themes of Christmas for the users to chat and post greetings.
(Chinese elementary students in the Christmas party in the classroom. "圣诞快乐" means "Merry Christmas".)
Some nationalists criticize this phenomenon, considering it as the invasion by the western culture, "Why we Chinese celebrate a western holiday? Are we proud of our own culture?" But the voice was quickly covered by the happy holiday atmosphere.
(Chinese girls in traditional Chinese costumes holding "Chinese should not celebrate Christmas" signs)
Actually, besides Christmas, Chinese celebrate some other western holidays, including St. Valentine's Day, Halloweens and even Thanks Giving. When I was in high school, with my classmates, I sold roses on the cold street, but found that the sellers were more than the buyers.
(Chinese kids selling roses on St. Valentine's Day)
The popularity of the western holidays among Chinese reminds me of the argument about the design of the Starbucks coffee cups for the Christmas last year in America. Some Americans got angry at the absence of the traditional Christmas symbols like Santa and the Cross. At that time, I couldn't totally understand it. To have them or not, is it such a big thing to split the Starbucks fans?
（Starbucks coffee cups. Photo sources: Time Magazine)
It's hard to estimate the loss of Starbucks caused by the argument, but I suddenly realized that the idea of a Chinese saying couldn't be more correct: Fortune comes from the harmonious relationship.
Asking others to respect our religious beliefs is reasonable, but once it goes too far, doing business between the two sides is impossible. Where there is anger, money goes away.
Non-Christian Chinese celebrating the western holidays is for the purpose of business, not for religion. Chinese business people use western holidays to promote the domestic consumption. Western holidays have also provided a reason for consumers to spend extra money in their pockets. It doesn't mean those non-Christians will convert to Christianity.
(Three young guys in Santa costumes beating a traditional Chinese drumb)
Chinese need more holidays to boast the domestic needs, not only the western ones.
In recent years, the online stores in China, mainly Taobao and Jingdong have created the "Double-Eleven", also called the "Singles' Day", encouraging online store owners to join the promotion event around November the 11th. After the success of it, "Double-Twelve" emerged.
(No one can deny the success of 11.11.)
Behind this phenomenon is the cultural background of China. Historically speaking, China has always been a secular country. Since ancient times, Chinese have taught the younger generations to get along with others harmoniously, regardless of their religious beliefs or originalities. Chinese put the gods of kinds of religions together in a same temple for the convenience of the believers of different religions. Chinese have reverence for the good principles, but for the realistic Chinese, it's meaningless to argue about the metaphysical dissent if it has a negative impact on their relationship with others.
Chinese say that one more friend will provide one more path to the fortune. Typical Chinese business people make more friends and try to meet the needs of the potential customers and partners rather than force them to accept their own beliefs, or even start wars to get benefits.
Nowadays, Chinese are doing business with countries of various cultural backgrounds, but it's rare to hear the conflicts between Chinese and the local people caused by the religious reasons. Thanks to the wisdom of our ancestors--harmony can bring the fortune.
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