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Christmas In China Mate, I Even Went to Church

Hey Hey and a Big G'Day to you Christmas time has once again graced us with its flashing lights and bells and whistles to then quickly bugger off for another year. In most cases it left behind countless smiles in households around the world but I'm sure it also left its usual trademark debts that many families will find hard to pay. This is the sad and unspoken side of Christmas that is also now quickly creeping into China. As this country grasps the 'Western Ways' new festivals financially come with it. I personally see no reason why China should celebrate Christmas but this year the streets were lined with both the Coca-Cola originated 'Santa' and the tinsel covered Christmas tree that we all know. The sad fact is that with new Festivals come new responsibilities for the parents. Many Chinese children now expect Christmas presents to appear beneath the tree upon awakening. A rather difficult feat for a country that is between 60% and 70% below the poverty line. I know some of the more religious people will be thinking, Christianity also has its claws in China. My answer is, the Chinese New Year is only a month away, this also costs most families more than they can afford. China celebrates an extensive calendar of Festivals and Celebrations each year that cost each family a lot of money. BUT...these are Chinese celebrations NOT Western celebrations that quickly seem to be kicking in doorways here. Compared to the amount of Chinese in this country there are sweet buggerall westerners. A total opposite to countries like Australia and America. With this difference comes a reality that China has no need to give up any of its festivals and celebrations to make way for western ones that really have no meaning here except 'Commercialism and Advertising' which realistically means only one thing...MONEY! If you are questioning why I keep repeating the words, why should China give up... Remember around 60 to 70% of this country live below the poverty line and I mean extremely below the poverty line....like dirt floor and a single light bulb type of below the poverty line. So for those who are still saying 'Yeah but'...that is 60 to 70% of 1.4 billion people. They can barely afford to live let alone buy Christmas presents for their children. Anyhow, enough of that, I will leave it up to you to make your own decision on Christmas in China. For me, I had a great Christmas. I spent many hours walking around town and I then spent the afternoon at school with the children taking part in and watching their 'Christmas Sing Song'. It was such a beautiful afternoon. Thankfully it was a smaller and less glamorous than little Tianyang which was surprising but for me the main thing is that the children had such a good time and there was little expense paid out on the bells and whistles. Unexpectedly and a little unwillingly, Christmas dinner was spent at a swarve restaurant with the school. Don't get me wrong, I love spending Christmas dinner with my friends from the school I am teaching at the time but as it is MY celebration I would prefer to bare the cost of the dinner or share it amongst the foreign teachers but this is never allowed and the Chinese school always pays the way. I truly understand that they are doing what they think is the best thing to make 'US' comfortable in their country on a day that we are away from our friends and family but most foreign teachers would prefer to treat the Chinese and make them comfortable on a day that 'WE' celebrate back home. Anyhow, it never ends up this way and I thank the Chinese people for their deep understanding and feelings for me on such a special day that Christmas Day is 'to us'. Though I am not a religious person I love 'Christmas Time' for what it truly is in a society such as Australia. It is a time for families to get together and enjoy each others company. Most of us live far from our families and it is a time to offer each other the special gift of simply being together and catching up on where we all are in life. After a most successful and extremely delicious dinner we all said our happy good byes. I then thought, 'Hey, the old church might be rokkin in the Old Quarter'. I ran upstairs to grab Alexa and Daniel and we all headed down to the Old Quarter. I found this church the week before and thought it was a great time to see how the Chinese Christians celebrated the birth of Christ. I also found out that it was built in 1882. To me being from Australia that is pretty bloody old. We soon found the old arch way and entered the 'Old Quarter'. We found the church covered in bright and flashing Christmas lights. Sadly when we entered the church stood empty of human souls, full of dust and full of bicycles. Within seconds we were shown to a building across the road. This ugly, white tiled building was the new church. Ok I thought, this is China, why would you even bother to use a beautiful Church built in 1882 when you can simply build a horrid boring white tiled building and use that instead. The old church is now sadly the bicycle park for those who attend the new church. How strange! We were all happily accepted and found a place to sit and experience what was to come. Daniel and Alexa left soon after and I stayed to experience a most beautiful evening. The plays, the singing, the dancing and for me the most beautiful part of the evening, the fan dancing were so beautiful. It really was a most extraordinary experience. When the night ended the Big Guy of the church raced me to the stage for some photos together along with the dancing girls. It really was a most delightful Christmas! Thank you China and thank you to everyone who reads my blog, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a Travelpod New Year! Beers N Noodles to you...shane

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Posted by eddakath 17:00 Archived in China

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