Giant Christmas trees adorned with lights, tinsel and gift boxes greet shoppers at glittering malls in big Chinese cities like Shanghai and Chongqing, but in many parts of China, extending season’s greetings is out of the question.
In southwest Yunnan province, a property management company issued a notice to shopping mall tenants urging them not to sell Christmas cards and presents and to even refrain from hanging decorations, saying foreign traditions should not be “blindly” followed, and one should be confident in one’s own culture.
Schools in some cities from Dongguan in the south to Harbin in the northeast similarly called on students and parents not to follow foreign traditions and culture without thinking.
In Gansu province in China’s northwest, a local branch of the Communist Youth League told its members to instead celebrate “The Battle at Lake Changjin”, a 2021 Chinese film depicting a fierce fight between the Chinese People’s Voluntary Army and U.S. forces during the Korean War.
China does not ban Christianity or forbid Christian worship, but like all permitted religions, it must be strictly managed and governed amid concern about “foreign influences”.
China is keen, however, to export Chinese culture, such as traditions around the Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year, in a global projection of its soft power.
Christmas Day is not a public holiday in mainland China, where Buddhism and Taoism are the major religions, with ancestral worship also a common practice. The Communist Party is officially atheist.