Holly and jolly

By Lin Shujuan (Beijing Weekend)
Updated: 2007-12-21 17:26

"Alone in a foreign land as a foreign guest, I miss my family all the more on every festive day." This line of prose was composed by a Tang Dynasty (618-907) poet, and today, it strikes a chord with those who find it difficult spending the holidays so far from home, family and friends.

And surely, there's hardly an expat in the city who doesn't get a little Grinchy upon hearing I'll Be Home for Christmas - perhaps the most relevant Western equivalent of the aforementioned Chinese prose.

But it doesn't take much searching to find Beijing has everything needed to become a home away from home - even during the holidays.

A cursory glance around the city shows signs the capital has begun to embrace the Western holiday. Today, Santa Clauses and their helpful elves, Christmas trees, angels, tinsel, glitter, snowflakes and all other imaginable yuletide trimmings abound around town.

But if Beijing's Christmas spirit just isn't enough, you can always turn to the wonderful World Wide Web to create your own envisaged happy holiday.

There are six suggestions for ways to get into the spirit of the season and beat back those holiday blues.

Carol crooning

Many would agree with American Charlie Shifflett, from Florida, that music - Christmas carols, in this case - has the power to create a festive mood.

This might be why this website offering free Christmas music downloads chose the address feelslikechristmas.com. A wide selection of seasonal songs - instrumental, traditional and contemporary - is available in the form of legal MP3 downloads.

There are also a number of online radio stations playing tunes from the holiday music genre during the season. Apple's digital radio player iTunes, which can be downloaded for free at www.download.com, opens channels to four Internet radio stations streaming holiday music 24/7. Songs available on these channels, including 181 FM, 1 FM tm, Sky Radio and Soma FM, come in a variety of musical styles, as is suggested by available titles such as A Capella Holiday, Country Christmas, the soulful Sounds of Christmas and the quirky Xmas in Frisco.

The San Francisco-based station Xmas in Frisco, operated by Soma FM, broadcasts a range of holiday music that mixes the past with the future and includes everything from "Christmas chill-out" to "Hanukkah hip-hop".

The digital radio RealPlayer, which connects to 5,000 Web stations across the globe, provides free access to broadcasters, such as South America's Radio Brasil, the Paris-based Notre Dame Radio and other Christmas-focused channels from Rome to Warsaw and Berlin.

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