• The Longest Christmas Season - Beijing
  • Jan 9, 2014
  • For those of us who cherish an extended Christmas season, Beijing is the place to be. In my home country, the USA, our holiday season runs from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Day, lasting just over a month. By tradition we usually decorate our Christmas trees shortly after Thanksgiving, sometimes the day after. That’s when stores, restaurants and city streets begin decking out for the holidays. And then, the day after New Year’s Day, or even earlier, everything comes down and is stored away for another year.

    January means back to school for students, a low-profit period for businesses and an icy winter. Just when China’s traditional holiday season is kicking off, it’s all over back home. 

    Today Christmas’s popularity in China makes the long holiday season even longer. Stores and cafes decorate for Christmas in early December and the holiday sentiment continues through its climax at the Chinese Spring Festival, creating a two month holiday season. It almost feels like Christmas, New Year’s Day and Spring Festival are a single holiday, especially when you see Christmas trees, decorated with Chinese lanterns (pictured right). Where else in the world could you find this?

    I’m not talking about those Merry Christmas signs and pictures of Santa Clause we all laugh at, still hanging on dusty restaurant windows in July. The people who run those places probably don’t even know Christmas in in December. They aren’t exactly celebrating Christmas in July. Not knowing the meaning of Christmas, they think it’s a western holiday and they somehow equate western with modern. Or perhaps some just think St. Nick is cute. Whatever, it’s not a summer holiday.

    What I am enjoying in Beijing is the long holiday season that will end when all the big holidays are over. People understand Christmas really is in December, but since it’s only a month or so before Spring Festival, they make it one long holiday. Right now I’m feeling quite inspired to write about this. Today is January 10. I am sitting in a coffee shop still decorated for Christmas. Traditional Christmas music is playing over the speakers. And I’m lovin’ it!


    It all sort of reminds me of a town in my home state of Michigan. In Frankenmuth, also called Little Bavaria, it’s Christmas all year long. One of the town’s main attractions is Bronner’s Christmas Wonderland, open every day except January 1, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. People don’t laugh when they see a Christmas tree in Frankenmuth in September because everyone knows it’s a Christmas town. It’s like a longer version of China’s two-month holiday celebration.

    After Spring Festival Beijing’s Christmas decorations will be replaced with Valentine hearts. But we’ll only have to wait ten months for another exciting Christmas – Spring Festival season to start again. I can hardly wait!