Christmas in China

How do I wish someone there a Happy Christmas?

  • Shèng dàn kuài lè (Mandarin)

When do they give presents?

  • As Christmas isn’t a traditional holiday, presents aren’t a big deal, but couples often treat each other on Christmas Eve. The country’s Christians also celebrate on Christmas Day.

Who brings the presents?

  • Dun Che Lao Ren or Christmas Old Man

What’s on the menu?

  • People often go out to restaurants for a meal, but there’s no main dish associated with Christmas.

Any other traditions I should know about?

  • With few Christians in mainland China and no tradition of Christmas, the festive season isn’t celebrated at all in much of the country. Since the 1990s it’s been adopted in the large cities as a fun festival of shopping and partying with friends.
  • Christmas Eve is a romantic day for young couples and many go ice skating or visit amusement parks.
  • Thanks to the fact the word ‘apple’ sounds similar to ‘Christmas Eve’ in Mandarin, the fruit has become a popular gift. Wrapped in cellophane, the apples are printed with Christmas messages.
  • Christmas is a much bigger celebration in Hong Kong and Macau, where it’s an official public holiday. Hong Kong in particular is famous for its extravagant Christmas illuminations.