Christmas is coming

Christmas as a western festival is becoming increasingly popular in China in the last few decades, especially among the younger generations. It has become a fashionable and important festival for some young people in China. Many of our clients asked whether Christmas time should be an active period for marketing projects in China. So, we would like to explain what Christmas means to Chinese people, and how it is celebrated in China in this blog post.

Is Christmas a public holiday in China?

No. Christmas as a religious holiday is not considered a public holiday in China. Christianity in China developed rapidly only in the last thirty years. 

Do people celebrate Christmas in China?

Yes, some Chinese people do. However, to the majority of Chinese people, Christmas represents a commercial event, rather than a religious holiday.

Large malls, restaurants and bars would hang up Christmas decorations to attract customers and encourage sales.

Christmas sales “fads” tend to spread from large cities to small towns. Many Chinese people embrace the culture and exchange gifts during Christmas, which also incentivises the acceptance of Christmas festivities in China.

Local Chinese merchants also tend to create new sales opportunities during foreign festivals. They successfully commercialised apples by associating apples with Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve is translated as “Ping An Ye”, or “peaceful night” in Mandarin. And apples are called “Ping Guo” in Mandarin. The similar Chinese Character “Ping”, was used to link the two concepts and symbolise “safety”.

Red Delicious and Granny Smith apples are often sold during Christmas. People give apples to each other on Christmas Eve to wish for peace and safety.

These “Christmas Apples” have no associate with Christmas, and so often baffles westerners. Yet, they sell because they had been adapted to Chinese culture.

Why do Chinese people celebrate Christmas?

Some people celebrate Christmas in China. However, it is not likely for a religious reason.

People celebrate Christmas because:

  • It is exotic. Christmas is seen as foreign and distinct from other traditional Chinese festivals.
  • It is in trend, and young people tend to celebrate it. If your peers celebrate Christmas, you don’t want to miss out.
  • It is a good reason to socialise. It is a perfect reason to gather, and Chinese people enjoy social gatherings with friends and families.

So, if you are running marketing activities in China. It is not necessary to stop them during Christmas. On the contrary, the commercialised holiday is a good time to generate sales.

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