A Look at the History of How China Celebrates Christmas

Unearth the ancient roots of how China commemorates a special occasion in wintertime, and uncover what it is referred to as! Delve into the past and explore the customs surrounding this festive season in the Far East. Discover what people do to honor the holiday, and why it has become an integral part of Chinese culture. Unearth this fascinating history today!

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For ages, a special event during the wintertime has been observed by the Chinese people – one that holds an important place in their culture and is rooted in antiquity.

The Lunar New Year is celebrated on the first day of the lunar calendar’s initial month, usually between late January and mid-February, signifying the end of winter and commencement of spring. To honor this momentous occasion, many activities are done such as giving presents like money or candy to signify luck and fortune for the upcoming year. Also popular is visiting family and friends, as well as cooking up some special meals for them. Moreover, red decorations like lanterns and paper-cuts are used to adorn homes with good luck.

The history of Lunar New Year goes back millennia. It is said that during this time a mythical being named Nian would come out looking to consume livestock and crops. To protect themselves from its fury, villagers would hang red decorations on their doors and set off firecrackers to scare it away – a tradition which eventually evolved into what we now know as Lunar New Year celebrations today.

Lunar New Year remains an essential part of Chinese culture, providing an opportunity for families to get together over food and festivities no matter where they are in China or around the world!



The Yuletide season is a time of great joy and festivity in China, where it has been observed for generations. But what is the Chinese name for this special occasion? It’s none other than Shengdan Jieh, or “Holy Birth Festival,” which serves as a reminder of the nation’s Christian heritage. Even though only around one percent of the population follows Christianity, many Chinese partake in Christmas festivities by exchanging presents and attending religious services. Plus, more cities have started to host lively Christmas markets and adorn public places with beautiful decorations. All in all, the celebration of Christmas in China demonstrates its long-standing culture of embracing different beliefs and amalgamating them into something unique.

– Historical Origins of Christmas Celebrations in China

For centuries, a mysterious and festive holiday has been celebrated in China. Its roots can be traced back to the early 20th century when Western missionaries first arrived in the country. A group of British and American missionaries held the first recorded celebration in Beijing in 1887, which included singing hymns, exchanging gifts, and feasting on traditional Chinese delicacies.

The tradition of celebrating Christmas gradually spread throughout China during the 1920s and 1930s as more foreign missionaries made their way into the country. Primarily celebrated by Christian communities living in urban areas such as Shanghai and Hong Kong at this time, it was still seen mainly as a foreign holiday.

However, over recent years, Christmas has become increasingly popular among young people in China, with cities hosting large-scale events such as concerts and parades to mark the occasion. Shopping malls are also adorned with festive decorations and lights during this period, while many families exchange gifts or attend church services to commemorate Jesus Christ’s birth.

It is evident that Christmas has become an important part of Chinese culture over time; from its humble beginnings among missionary communities to its current status as a widely-celebrated holiday – it is clear that it is here to stay!

– Traditional Chinese Christmas Customs and Traditions

The Yuletide season is a time of joy and festivity in many countries, including China. Although not an official holiday, Christmas has become increasingly popular in recent years. Chinese traditions for celebrating the occasion are rooted in the country’s long-held customs of commemorating festivals and holidays.

One custom is exchanging red envelopes with money or gifts as a sign of luck and fortune for the coming year. The hue also symbolizes cheerfulness and delight during this festive period. Additionally, decorations such as paper cutouts and lamps are hung up to signify hope for brighter days ahead.

Chinese families often come together to share meals featuring traditional flavors like garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili peppers. Dishes may include dumplings, noodles, fish, chicken, pork dishes, vegetables, fruits, cakes, cookies and other desserts.

Finally, stories about Shengdan Laoren (the local equivalent of Santa Claus) bringing presents to children on Christmas Eve night are told with a Chinese twist!

In conclusion, traditional Chinese customs for Christmas reflect centuries-old practices that have been passed down through generations. They bring people closer together during this special time of year by sharing joyful moments with family and friends over delicious food and meaningful activities!

– The History of the Advent of Christianity to China

A complex story, spanning centuries and multiple waves of missionaries, lies behind the arrival of Christianity in China. During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE), Nestorian Christian missionaries from Syria, Persia, Central Asia and India brought the religion to the country. Establishing churches and translating religious texts into Chinese for local people, they spread their message far and wide.

However, as Roman Catholic priests began to arrive from Europe during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE), gaining converts among Chinese elites and building churches in major cities, their efforts were met with resistance from both Confucianists and Buddhist sects. This led to persecution of Christians by imperial court.

The Manchu forces overthrowing the Ming Dynasty ushered in a period of relative tolerance towards Christianity, accompanied by an influx of new missionaries from Europe. More churches were built across China while missionary activity reached its peak. Yet anti-foreign sentiment soon rose due to Western influence in China’s affairs; resulting in increased persecution of Christians by authorities and mobs alike. In 1859 an edict was issued banning missionizing activities throughout China. Despite this setback, Christianity survived through underground networks until it was officially legalized again following Mao Zedong’s death in 1979.

Today there are around 10 million Christians living in China – making it one of the largest Christian populations in Asia – although still facing restrictions on religious practice imposed by government. The faith has flourished over a millennium since its first introduction to Chinese shores.

– How the Chinese Name for Christmas Has Changed Over Time

For centuries, ‘Tàiguójié’ (太國節) has been the Chinese term used to refer to Christmas, a beloved holiday celebrated in many countries. This phrase, which translates as ‘Festival of the Great Country’, was used during the Tang Dynasty (618-907 CE) when Christianity started spreading in China.

In the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), ‘Shèngdànjié’ (聖誕節) began being used more frequently and is still used today as an alternative way to refer to Christmas in China. This phrase translates as ‘Holy Birth Festival’, and it is believed to have been adopted from western missionaries who brought Christianity to China during this period.

Nowadays, ‘Yīngguó Shèngdànjié’ (英國聖誕節) is a popular phrase employed by many Chinese people when talking about Christmas. It means ‘British Holy Birth Festival’, reflecting the strong influence British culture has had on Chinese society lately.

The evolution of the Chinese name for Christmas over time shows how different cultures have interacted and shaped one another through history. From its earliest recorded use in the Tang Dynasty up until now, new terms have been created that both celebrate this festive holiday around the world and reflect Chinese cultural heritage.

– Impact of Western Culture on Chinese Christmas Celebrations

The history of Christmas in China is an intriguing one, with Western culture having a significant effect on how the holiday is celebrated. Initially brought to China by Christian missionaries during the 19th century, it was not until much later that Christmas became popularly embraced. This had an immediate influence on Chinese culture, with Lunar New Year festivities being replaced by Christmas-related activities such as gift exchange and tree decorating in some areas.

As Westernization increased, so did the acceptance of Christmas among the Chinese populace. Stores began stocking decorations and presents specifically for this holiday, while cities held annual events which blended both cultures – Shanghai’s “Christmasland” being a prime example.

Nowadays, Chinese Christmas celebrations are still heavily impacted by Western culture. Cities host large-scale events featuring Santa Claus alongside traditional lion dances, shopping malls are decorated extravagantly around this time of year, and many hotels offer festive packages for guests looking to experience a special atmosphere during their stay. Furthermore, families often exchange gifts on Christmas Day as part of their celebrations.

It is clear that Western culture has been integral in forming how Christmas is celebrated in China today – from its introduction through missionaries to its widespread acceptance now – showing how cultural interchange between East and West has shaped the history of Chinese Christmas over time.


The long-standing tradition of Christmas in China dates back to the 7th century. Referred to as “Shengdan Jieh” or “Holy Birth Festival”, it is observed as a sacred holiday, rather than a secular one. Celebrations have been passed down through generations, and continue to be celebrated with joyous vigor today.


Some questions with answers

Q1: What is the history of Christmas in China?
A1: Christmas was not widely celebrated in China until after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States in 1979. Since then, it has become increasingly popular among the Chinese people, especially in major cities such as Beijing and Shanghai.

Q2: How is Christmas celebrated in China?
A2: Christmas is celebrated by exchanging gifts, decorating trees and homes with lights, and attending church services. In recent years, there have been more secular activities such as shopping sales and concerts. People also enjoy eating traditional Chinese food such as dumplings during this time.

Q3: What does China call Christmas?
A3: In Chinese, Christmas is called “Sheng Dan Jieh” or “Holy Birth Festival”. It is also sometimes referred to as “Little New Year”.

Q4: Are there any special customs associated with Christmas in China?
A4: Yes, there are several special customs associated with Christmas in China. For example, children receive red envelopes containing money from their parents or grandparents on Christmas Day. Additionally, many people exchange apples on this day because the Chinese word for apple (ping guo) sounds similar to the phrase for “peaceful country” (ping an guo).

Q5: Is there a Christian presence in China?

A5: Yes, Christianity has had a presence in China since at least the 7th century AD. Today there are estimated to be around 67 million Christians living in mainland China, making up about 5% of the population.

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