Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa and His Elves 

The last day of class for the English majors was scheduled for today, so I rearranged their schedule and had them take the final exam a week ago so that we could have a Christmas party today. The students all drew names and bought presents for each other. We read the Christmas story together, then opened presents. It's interesting to see how quickly these young people adapt to something that is completely new to them. I don't think I had a single student who had ever been to a Christmas party before. But Christmas is here to stay. It's probably not going to be quite what it is in America, because the society is not set up to facilitate gift giving the way it is in the United States. Several years ago, I went to the Walmart Super Store near where I live to by some stuff for Christmas. I could not find any wrapping paper anywhere in the store.

There is another issue with Christmas in China. The merchants are in favor of the Christmas thing, because they all know how much money it generates in the United States. But for Christmas to generate that kind of a market, you have to have a certain number of people in the society who actually believe in it. In America, all the churches have Christmas programs, and school Christmas programs are very common if not universal. Americans believe in Christmas. In China, the big, Three-Self churches have Christmas programs, but Christmas programs among the family churches are much more restrained. This, I'm sure, is because they don't have official status, so, while the police may be inclined to look the other way with respect to their Sunday services, which tend to be small and unassuming, conducting a major Christmas program as a community event would probably not be allowed. Or at least not more than once. I did go to such an event one time years ago at the Chaoyang Hotel over on the east side. It was put on by the "Wheat" church a rather larger house church in the Beijing area, and is one of the most beautiful Christmas programs I have ever seen. But I never heard anything about it in subsequent years. My guess is that they were not allowed to host the same program the next year. So that kind of thing needs to change. It's going to take time. But it's happening. Slowly but surely it's happening. Christmas is unstoppable.

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