Home Genres Travel Photography A secular, commercial Christmas. Just like home.

A secular, commercial Christmas. Just like home.


I’ve never visited Beijing in December before so I was puzzled by the universal presence of Christmas. Trees, baubles, reindeer and carols in Mandarin where everywhere I went. All this in an atheist country, just like Britain. The only difference was that crosses are banned. Trees were topped by strange geometric symbols standing in for the dangerous trappings of religion. A friend, who belongs to an ex-pat choir in the capital, tells me that they cannot get a permit to perform Handel’s Messiah, presumably because it is considered too religious. Yet Christmas is everywhere, a least in decor, if not in holy spirit. I am sure that the majority of Chinese have little inkling of what Christmas is all about. Like us, though, they take the opportunity to have a good spending spree and celebrate the winter solstice.