Christmas is important for Christians in China and the interest has spread into the wider public, causing the government to clamp down on Christmas celebrations in public and any involvement of officials for fear the country becomes too Western.
However, the celebrations of Christmas by Chinese Catholics is different from the West. They have not custom of exchanging gifts, emphasising Santa or having special dishes that are the equivalent of turkey and plum pudding though the meal they share together will be more elaborate than usual. The celebration is a communal festival with families going to the church three or more time not only for the traditional Mass but also for plays, singing and dancing.
Fire-works are detonated and plays performed publicly, often with an informal parade of nativity scenes through villages and towns on the back of trucks. It is an opportunity to bring the Christmas message to the wider public.
It is interesting that in the West Christmas has become mainly a family occasion and efforts to share the message of Christmas with non-Christians are not evident.
A Happy Christmas to all our friends everywhere and looking forward to hearing from you in the New Year! Hugh.