Christmas in Beijing – 圣诞快乐 (Happy Christmas)

Christmas is almost upon us. ‘Tis the season and all that! China is officially an atheist country but you still see many shops decorating  their windows with ‘Merry Christmas’ messages and Christmas trees up. My school has kindly given all the foreign teachers the day off, despite the fact it is a normal school day and all the kids will be in school.

Our plan, I believe is to eat Christmas dinner at tea time, around 6.30 pm. This is because one of the teachers has an elective exam which she has to organise for her class. The time is an approximate as this group isn’t know for doing things on time, it’s usually a rough estimate if they say they will do something at a particular time.

There is a new Marks & Spencers just opened in Beijing. The first one here (there are others in Shanghai and Hong Kong). It only opened on Friday, so I took a trip there on Saturday. There was a big Christmas tree outside it, and two tunnels, one which said ‘Merry Christmas’ and the other which said ‘Happy New Year’. Anyway M&S was pretty busy, mostly with expats buying British Christmas food, like mince pies. I bought some stuff, including a small Christmas pudding (I love these, and usually buy a whole bunch of them in January when supermarkets flog them off cheap). I will have that when I want to celebrate something.

Our Christmas will be interesting, I think. It doesn’t feel, for me, like Christmas. There are blue skies often and it is very dry. It hasn’t rained in quite a while, but it is cold. If you looked out of your window, it could be the middle of summer. And, in the UK, we get lots of frost and ice, whereas because it is dry, we get hardly any here. It’s just cold.

Christmas is one of my favourite times of year; but some may think me a Scrooge here. Not in the festival spirit etc. I suppose the others are feeling a little home sick and want to replicate the feeling of home away from home. We are having turkey (ordering it in, quite expensive) and things like that. But we don’t have any ovens so things are limited to what we can make. I think, if I were by myself, I’d buy something nice to eat, and catch up with TV/DVD watching (especially the DVD I have got for Christmas). And perhaps, during the day, I will do that.

I suppose there is a feeling of malaise because we have to put on a Christmas pantomime for the kids. It is being done on Christmas Eve, in the evening, and there are tempers fraying, with the directors and actors. I don’t know how much the kids will understand but others seem convinced….

There are some areas of Beijing which are still ‘traditional’ areas, parts that are a bit ‘oldy-worldy’. These are called hutongs. I went there a few weeks ago.

Very busy on a Saturday afternoon. The final sign, I saw on a door to someone’s house or shop. Complete opposite of what we tend to do at home, where we visit people often, usually without asking. Anyway, 圣诞快乐. Happy Christmas.

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