I have not written for quite some time as I have been really busy lately – I have been working a lot and even in China I got into some pre-Christmas stress. Given the fact that I am leaving for Thailand and Singapore next week we had to celebrate our Christmas already.
Especially in Advent it is very hard not to think of home as so many memories of your childhood come popping up. Chinese Christmas, if you can even call it like that, is a pure commercial festival. If you see a Christmas tree in a shop window or home, it serves as a sign that the corresponding house has western connections and has nothing to do with our customs. You can forget the Austrian value of a contemplative Advent, the only Christmas decoration you will find are Christmas trees shining in every color and crazy Santa hats. Chinese have no problem with fake things, and you can most closely observe that during that time. Why shouldn’t every tree be covered in pink snow or every candle be an electric one shining in green? Still it is a lot of fun to walk through the markets, discovering lanterns that blow snow or snowman that lift hats, directly next to the all-year stands selling Mao cups, electronics or Chinese lanterns.
We did have or Christmas gathering with our Chinese class squad. I decorated my flat with red ribbons, some angles, red candles and some twigs in a water bottle to resemble a Christmas tree. We met for mulled wine, apple sauce and cookies (a rarity in China where most households do not even have a small oven).
We did secret Santa and exchanged presents, and some real Christmas feelings came up when we were singing “Silent Night” with guitarlele tunes to accompany us. After watching the Christmas movie “A wonderful life”, we had the best moment of all just hugging each other and sharing this weirdest Christmas we will never forget.
I am sure to write you again soon and wish you a nice Advent,