It’s Christmas in China. Who would have believed it? The comrades, Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, et al will be spinning in their mausoleums, ears, arms and various bits etc flying off at the consumerist/capitalist horror of it all.
One sort of expects that China would be a dour, bleak, humourless, totalitarian, police state governed by atheistic beaurocrats from the ivory towers of Beijing. And yet it seems the insidious nature of the consumerist Christmas has gained a major foothold here. The shops and streets are bedecked with, whilst not exactly holly, but the sort of shiny tat that we have come to expect in our shops and high streets from about mid October in the west.
Even the loudspeaker systems which once would have been used as propaganda machines for the Great Leap Forward or something now vomit Good King Wenceslas and Once in Royal David’s City, at least I haven’t heard Frosty the Snowman yet let alone the horrors that is the voice of Noddy Holder screaming ‘ITS CHIRIIIIISTMAAAAS!’ at full volume.
In one of my classes last week we did discuss Christmas and the students were a bit confused when I warned them that Christmas will drive them mad if they were not careful. I then had to explain that it was all about the money honey. And how the whole season has become one mad spending spree that sees many people accruing debt that they can ill afford (let along having to spend time with ones family - there are probably statistics that show the number of failed marriages, divorces, violent attacks and various bouts of mayhem that have festered and come to fruition over the turkey and cranberry sauce)
I am pretty sure that Christmas (and the resulting mayhem, financial and personal) is one aspect of western life that the Chinese could do without. And of course they would get the FULL commercial Christmas devoid of any link to Christianity, because of course Christianity is almost illegal here. Some Christian churches are allowed but to attend services one must hold a foreign passport. No doubt there are some Chinese Christians but they are few and far between and probably keep it quite quiet. (I do wonder how many young people in the UK today could tell us what Christmas was really about originally, how many of them could tell us about the birth of Christ and not the new iphone 4 or Xbox 360 that they are hoping to get in their 'stocking')
For the Chinese the spring festival and the Chinese New Year are their major winter festivals, but I am sure a Western Christmas that encourages the worst excesses of consumerism will be quick to take hold. Already Halloween is popular and many places were advertising Thanksgiving, so Christmas, as the major spend fest, has got to be the jewel in the crown for the Chinese (and the Western) capitalist classes (or should that be 'entrepreneurs a much more 'friendly' term eh). It is basically a blatant example of Cultural Imperialism dressed up in a red suit and black boots.
Lets not forget that the common image of Santa as a fat man in a red suit and black boots was dreamt up by the marketing department of Coca Cola.
Anyway here are some more pictures of a Nanjing Christmas
Ho ho ho! (sigh!)