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How to Celebrate Christmas in China: Crowds, Dating, Eating Eggs and Apples

Posted: 12/25/2014 4:22 pm
xmas yuzhou henan ski promotion

A recent ski promotion in Yuzhou, Henan.

When it comes to celebrating Christmas, Chinese do it in their own unique way. Celebrating the holiday has slowly caught on in China over the past decade, but it doesn’t resemble the traditions the west would recognize. Family gatherings and big meals are reserved for Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, while Christmas is taking up the spot associated with revelry, parties, and romance.

christmas shenzhen

Celebrating Christmas Eve in Shenzhen with “falling snow”.

Gone are the familiar sights of the nativity scene, turkey and stuffing, egg nog, goofy seasonal sweaters, or mistletoe. In China, there are no cultural references of It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, A Miracle on 34th StreetRudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer or Frosty the Snowman.

Instead, Chinese use Christmas Even as a chance to go out and have dinner with their friends, converge in public places, and find the “meaning of Christmas” (with Chinese characteristics, of course). For example, this boisterous party in Wuhan, Hubei:

xmas wuhan hubei crowd

In Kunming, Yunnan, the crowd got a little rowdy when people began to spray each other with fake snow:

xmas kunming yunnan crowdxmas kunming yunnan crowd

As they did in Guiyang, Guizhou:

xmas guiyang guizhou crowdBut the crowd to beat all others was in Chongqing:

And then there’s the social aspect of celebrating Christmas in China. Many Chinese find themselves under pressure to find a date for this social occasion. Christmas Eve is a dreadful occasion for Chinese that are single, many of whom who took to Weibo to commiserate.

Besides large crowds and hanging out with friends, Chinese have been finding their own new ways to celebrate the holiday. Since the Chinese word for “Christmas” contains a homophone for eggs, competitive eater Pan Yizhong decided to eat 160 eggs because it ”seemed like an appropriate time to eat eggs.” Pan took 40 minutes to quaff down 150 quail eggs and ten chicken eggs (below).

christmas eggsEggs aren’t the only food associated with Christmas. Apple also shares a homophone with the word “peace”, and Christmas Eve is known in Chinese as the “Night of Peace”. That means apples have become a popular gift at Christmas, complete with higher prices.

Meanwhile, Santa is generally well-known in China but there might be some confusion about his defining physical trait. A Weibo contest with the hashtag #FakeChristmasBeardContest encouraged people to send in photos of themselves wearing Santa’s trademark white woolly beard. It started off like this:

xmas santa beard contestThen morphed into this:

xmas santa beard contestxmas santa beard contest

In whichever form, Christmas still has its detractors in China. In Xi’an, a university disallowed its students to take part in any festivities on Christmas Eve, instead forcing them to watch propaganda films. Over in Changsha, Hunan, university students wearing traditional Chinese clothing carried signs denouncing Christmas at a holiday event (below).

xmas changsha protest xmas changsha protest With all of these differences, Chinese culture may have lost out on the references that make Christmas what it is in the west. However, it’s difficult to learn more about Christmas in China without its characterization as a rowdy holiday getting in the way.

The Shenyang Liaoning Evening Post sent out this Weibo post that purported to list 200 appropriate songs for Christmas Eve. However, anyone opening the file is instead confronted with these words:

Do you honestly plan to spend this night listening to songs?

Photos: 8099999 (2), Jingshi Live, Guizhou UniversityTianjin Culinary Picks, Weibo (1, 2, 3, 4), QQ Newsxywy, telegraph


Shenzhen Metro to Extend Holiday Service for Christmas, New Year’s

Posted: 12/24/2014 9:36 am
santa subway hangzhou

Santa passes out treats on the Hangzhou Metro in 2012.

The Christmas holidays may not be official in China, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating all night long this year, as the Shenzhen Metro will be extending service hours for Christmas and New Year’s.

All five lines of the Shenzhen Metro will provide 24 hour service on December 24 (Christmas Eve), December 31 (New Year’s Eve), and January 1, 2015 (New Year’s Day).

If you’re concerned about going home by subway using limited service, they’ve confirmed complete service after midnight for New Year’s Eve revelers on two lines. On January 1 at 12:15 and 12:25am, Line 1 will run two trains the entire line from Luohu Station to Airport East Station. Line 2 will run the same schedule from Xinxiu Station to Chiwan Station.

For those who don’t turn into a proverbial pumpkin at midnight, there’s still other trains. All the same, we wish everyone a happy holidays, and to get home safe.

Photo: hangzhou


Infographic: Chinese People Work Harder, Longer Than Anyone Else

Posted: 12/1/2014 4:24 pm

chinese laborThe humble yet arduous worker is fundamental to the creation of modern China. But as a new study shows, the workers that have ushered the country into a new era of prosperity are paying a heavy price.

The number of hours worked by a Chinese worker is the highest in the world at 44.6 hours a week. At the same time, a Chinese worker is only given an average of ten days off a year, far fewer than those in other countries.

A study published by Beijing Normal University shows 90 percent of China’s industries have their employees work more than the standard 40 hour work week with an average of four hours of overtime. The hospitality and food industry are the worst, with employees putting in 51.4 hours a week on average.

Chinese staff are estimated to work between 2,000 and 2,200 hours a year, a rate comparable to those in developed Western countries from a hundred years ago.

The report also details a number of labor issues affecting Chinese workers, with those long hours being the biggest problem. Overwork is the top occupational hazard resulting in the most illnesses and deaths in China. Construction and mining jobs are also dangerous, with the study noting 75 percent of Chinese workers who suffer from occupational diseases are miners. Most of those have black lung disease.

Work pressure is also blamed for causing depression and suicide.

Chinese workers must also face long commute times. Beijing tops the list of Chinese cities with the longest commute at 97 minutes, with Guangzhou in second place at 92.2 minutes.

As well, Chinese workers get fewer paid holidays than workers in other countries. Chinese workers are commonly rewarded five paid days off from work only after working a full year with a company.

Here is the full infographic from Caixin:

china work infographic

Photos: Caixin, Asia Todaynipic


China’s Antiquated National Holiday System Could Be Overhauled

Posted: 09/17/2014 9:56 am

china vacation great wall overcrowded crowds too many people

Don’t book your next vacation just yet! China’s State Council says it plans to review the national holiday system for 2015.

The State Council made its intentions known in a publicized letter to tourism departments on September 9, calling for a joint conference for tourism ministers. As there is no date for the joint conference yet, we don’t know what changes are being planned.

China is known for its infamous “Golden Week” holidays, which last for seven days but sometimes involve working on either end of the holiday, even if those days fall on a weekend. But the creation of “Golden Weeks” in 1999 helped Chinese people plan vacations because they had seven consecutive days off. The downside is everybody took vacations at the same time, resulting in massive overcrowding on the transport networks and tourist sites.

There have been debates on China’s holiday system before. Arthur Kroeber, the director of Dragonomics, a Beijing-based economics research firm, said the holiday reform debate “indicates that China’s becoming a more normal country. They don’t have to micromanage everyone’s vacations.”

However, people might not be ready to manage their holidays on their own. In December 2013, the national holiday office sought the public’s opinion in settling the problem of China’s holiday system. Opinion polls provided three options for the public to vote upon. The most traditional option, a seven day holiday on National Day, was the winner.

As absolutely anything is possible at this point, we should also steel ourselves to the possibility that this joint conference may decide, in all its wisdom, to change nothing at all.

Photo: cpd


Shenzheners Most Likely To Skip Town Over Holiday

Posted: 05/6/2014 7:57 pm

A nifty infographic released by QQ Space that tallies up the tourist trends of Chinese people during the Labor Day holiday has revealed some interesting bits of trivia.

First, Shenzhen tops the list of Chinese cities that had the most departures of holiday goers from May 1 to 3; rounding out the list after Chengdu and Beijing is Guangzhou at number four. The infographic gives it a nice spin of saying Shenzhen residents are the people who “most love fun in China”, and not that they can’t stand to spend another long weekend here.

Maybe telling and maybe not, Dongguan pops up in this demographic as being the ninth most popular domestic destination this past Labor Day holiday. Are the good times back? We’ll see if travelers will go for the hooker, line and sinker. No other Guangdong city made it into that list.

Some more factoids: Labor Day travelers are mostly female, aged 23-34, and of the Aries sign. Men like to take group photos, while girls prefer “selfies”. Thirty year-olds are more liable to pose with a peace sign, while twenty year-olds are more prone to posing with a duckface.

Photo: Weibo


Big Crowds Expected at Border Crossings, Metro to Run Late, and More Transport News

Posted: 04/29/2014 3:46 pm

labor day holidayThe Labor Day Holiday will take place from May 1-3, and here’s a round-up of the various transportation news that should help you along your way:

  • Crossing the border into Hong Kong? Peak hours everyday take place between 8:30 and 11am, and 7 and 10pm, so arrive at another time or be prepared to line up.
  • Both the Shenzhen Metro will run late on Thursday until 12am midnight, while the Guangzhou Metro will extend operations by one hour.
  • The Shenzhen Railway Station will run additional trains: there will be an extra train to Shaoguan on Wednesday and Thursday, and an extra train to Yueyang on Wednesday and Friday.
  • Provincial highways will be toll-free for the duration of the holiday.
  • A discount is being offered on non-peak flights for the holidays. For example, the lowest priced flight of Singapore Air from May 1 to July 12 is 1200 yuan.
  • The holiday return peak time will be from 10am-10pm on Saturday. Expect us to publish photos of crazy line-ups and queues from this time period next week.

Remember: it’s back to work on Sunday, May 4 for a six day work week from May 4-9.

Photo: China News


Universiade holidays announced, and one mightly long bus stop

Posted: 08/3/2011 11:11 am

We are only days away from the opening ceremonies of the Universiade, and already some media and other hangers-on have begun arriving in the city. Security is tight in Shenzhen ahead of the games, and troublemakers have already been sent elsewhere.

For those working in the city, you’re going to get a few extra days off this month. The Shenzhen government has unveiled the holidays, of which there will be a total of 7 days off. It’s a bit confusing, so we’ll try and break it down.

The opening ceremonies are on Friday August 12 and the closing ceremonies are on Tuesday August 23. Both days are absolute holidays, meaning no work needed and no make-up days required.


The government is also freeing the proletariat from work on Thursday August 11, Saturday August 13 and Sunday August 14. Combined with the 12th off for the opening ceremonies, that’s four straight days of no work. Monday August 22 and Wednesday August 24 are also days off, providing 3 straight holiday days at the end of the Universiade. The catch here is that these additional days off (*not* the days off for the opening and closing ceremonies) will need to be made up with additional days of work.

Employees need to work on Saturday August 6 and Saturday August 20, as well as Sunday August 21. Make sense?

If it’s still confusing, you can also find more information here.

One large bus stop

The bus stop at Futian Touzi and the Guangdian buildings have the longest waiting area in Shenzhen, according to an online report. The waiting area is 120 meters long.

A reporter with the paper interviewed somebody from the municipal government after spotting the extra-long waiting area. The government said it was built to resolve the problem caused by the massive volume of passengers and traffic at these two bus stops. Perhaps longer buses should be next on the agenda.


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