The population of Christians in East Asia is quite less, but Christmas is still a much celebrated festival in the eastern part of the continent. The spirit of Christmas is high amongst East Asians and local traditions are almost always strictly adhered to. Although, European and American culture and traditions have a great influence on the way Christmas is celebrated, it still is quite different in East Asia. People make sure that customs and cultures of that particular region influence the celebrations. The traditional Christmas trees, ways of decorating a house, sweets and savories are all generously sprinkled with local preferences to add a unique flavor to Christmas festivities. Given below are the highlights of the East Asian way of celebrating Christmas in three countries viz., China (and Hon-Kong which a part of China), Japan and India.
Christmas In China
Read about Christmas and its traditions in East Asia and East Asian Christmas customs.
Christmas In East Asia
- Children in China make colorful paper ornaments like flowers, chains and lanterns during Christmas. These paper ornaments are usually a part of many celebratory decorations.
- Muslin stockings are hung in and around the house so that Santa can keep gifts and treats in them.
- Also, the Christmas trees are referred to as the ‘Trees of Light’ and Santa is called ‘Dun Che Lao Ren’ which means ‘Christmas Old Man’.
- Children receive new clothes, toys and various gifts from friends and family members, and good food and fireworks are enjoyed.
- Going to church and attending the midnight mass is quite popular amongst the small catholic population of China.
- Peking duck and dumplings are amongst the popular Christmas dishes in China. Bowls of fruit are displayed during the season as they symbolize good luck and fortune.
Christmas In Hong Kong
- Hong Kong, a part of China now, celebrates Christmas similar to the Chinese in many ways.
- There are many church services conducted in Chinese.
- Christmas cards are exchanged between loved ones. Handmade cards are popular amongst talented people. Poinsettias, scenic beauty, and Chinese alphabets are popular themes.
- Ginger bread, roasted turkey and roasted chicken are a part of the Christmas delicacies served here during Christmas.
Christmas In Japan
- Only one percent of the Japanese population comprises of Christians. However most people are excited about Christmas and like to be a part of the celebrations.
- They decorate their homes and shops with green decorative items and exchange gifts.
- The Hoteiosha priest acts like Santa Claus and goes from door to door distributing gifts. They say that the Hoteiosha priest has eyes on the back of his head which makes children behave themselves when he is around.
- In Japan, Christmas is not considered a family holiday and hence people spend the day doing social work and charity.
- Unlike in other parts of the world, turkey and plum pudding are not relished here, however traditional Christmas cake and chicken delicacies make for the meal.
- Sunday schools organize events for children on Christmas Eve or the night before Christmas.
Christmas In India
- Christmas is an important festival for Indians. Since India is a vast country, Christmas is celebrated differently in different parts of the country.
- The midnight mass is an important service in India and entire families take part in this tradition. For these services, the churches are decorated with poinsettia flowers and candles.
- At some places, instead of the traditional Christmas tree, banana or mango leaves are used for decorations. The spirit of Christmas is highest in Goa owing to the large number of Roman Catholics in this Indian ‘Union Territory’.
- Roast duck, mince pies, pork along with stew and appams grace the table during dinner.
Christmas is special no matter where you go and the differences in the Christmas and the Christian customs in the south-east Asia only tell us that the spirit of Christmas does not lie in the customs; rather it lies in the happiness that it spreads.