The holiday season is filled with nostalgia and tradition. Many of our most cherished customs have been around for centuries. Every culture has unique ways of celebrating. When the holiday is Christmas, both religious and secular aspects of the occasion make for very different kinds of festivities depending on where you live.
For residents of China, a mainly non-Christian country, Christmas is enjoyed by a smaller segment of the population. The focus of the winter holidays in China is on the New Year celebrations. However, Christmas is growing in popularity, and like everywhere else in the world, China has its special ways of marking the day.
A Chinese Christmas
In preparation for Christmas and New Year celebrations, Chinese homes are decorated with paper lanterns. A Christmas tree or Tree of Light is also decorated with paper lanterns, paper chains and paper flowers. Oranges and tangerines are also used as decorations that represent wealth and good fortune.
Small children will hang muslin stockings to be filled with gifts by the Chinese version of Santa, known as the Christmas Old Man. Gifts of money placed in lucky red envelopes are also common as gifts to mark the holidays and New Year.
Feasting is an important part of the holiday season, although you should not expect to see ham or turkey on the table. More popular Chinese Christmas meals include roast barbecued pork, chicken, or roasted duck.
The holidays are also a time to honor deceased ancestors by displaying their portraits. Elaborate displays of fireworks and many local fairs and festivals also mark the season. Stores and public places are decorated with displays of lights.
Stationery for a Chinese Celebration
For those celebrating holidays with Chinese traditions, the color red is important. It symbolizes fire, which can ward off evil spirits and bad luck. When your holiday invitations feature images of a red tablecloth, a place setting and a wine glass, it’s a reminder of the prosperous holiday celebration.
Lovely, red-inspired holiday stationery would also be appropriate for any type of holiday meal from an intimate Christmas Eve dinner to a feast after church services. Restaurants featuring special holiday meals can print menus and wine lists on this festive paper.
More Chinese New Year Traditions
For those who do not celebrate Christmas, the Chinese New Year is the most prominent holiday of the winter season. The Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is a 15-day celebration based on the cycle of the moon. The New Year events are capped off on the 15th day with the Lantern Festival. Celebrations include nighttime parades and displays of lanterns.
Foods with special symbolic significance are widely consumed. The vegetarian dish jai contains many elements, each with a different meaning. A whole fish represents togetherness and abundance. A whole chicken, with all parts intact, symbolizes prosperity. Noodles are served uncut, representing a long life. Many other regional and local delicacies are shared with family and friends.
The color red also comes into play with decorations. Good wishes written in a poetic format on red paper are displayed on walls and doors. Flowers and fruit are also beautifully arranged and prominently featured throughout the house. This year, why not borrow a few ideas from the ancient country of China to add to your enjoyment of the holiday season?