Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas in China 

This week the topic for the English Majors was "Holidays." I put together a list of the basic facts of Christmas and told them to take that information and make up their own Christmas programs. I divided them into groups of six to eight students. They are pretty good at role playing, so I thought it would be a good way for them to get a feel for what Christmas is all about. They didn't have any trouble coming up with some interesting variations. A bit irreverent in places, but hard not to smile. These kids really are quite entertaining.

Christmas programs. I've seen a lot of them, and I've been in a lot of them. I remember once when I was seven years old, I was drafted to play the role of Joseph for the evening Christmas at the church in Sakata. It wasn't really a full Christmas program--mainly just a nativity scene. I was told that I didn't have to say anything, so I went along with the idea even though I was slightly less than enthusiastic. But there was one problem. Church services in Japan are very long, and standing in that little store room off to the side of the stage, it seemed like forever that we had to wait. I just could not keep my eyes open. When it came time for me to go on, I was out cold. The Mary for that scene was a little Japanese girl. She went on dutifully and did everything perfectly. Me? Well, they shook me awake, and I managed to stumble onto the stage, but my bathrobe caught on something that was stored in that little room, and I managed to drag it onto the stage with me. So if you can imagine yourself in the audience--you're sitting through a long, long Christmas service, and then it's time for Joseph and Mary. Mary comes on and walks to the middle of the stage just like she's supposed to. But...no Joseph. All of a sudden, here comes the gaijin, stumbling onto the stage like he's had too much Christmas cheer, dragging half the back stage with him. I'd never make it in Hollywood.

Dad told me that when he first went to Japan, he saw a Christmas tree, and on top of the Christmas tree was a cross, and Santa Claus was hanging on the cross. Got to give them an "A" for effort. It's interesting to me how Christmas has become such a thoroughly international festival. I can't say "holiday," really, because China does not have a Christmas holiday (yet), but it is quite noticeable here. Different from America, but I do like Christmas in China, because there isn't quite so much emphasis on presents. I remember asking one of my students about his Christmas...

"How was your Christmas?"


"Really? What did you get for Christmas?"


I said, "This I gotta hear." He told me that he had taken his girlfriend out to dinner and given her some flowers. In China, Christmas Eve is called, "Ping An Ye," which means "Peaceful Evening." I like that. Restaurants are open late so that young people like my student and his girlfriend can have a nice evening out.

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