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Christmas in Hangzhou: A Battle of Cultures

2009-December-29 11:41:17

"Christmas is not Christmas without turkey," says Steve, my American friend from Zhejiang University. "So, we should organize a turkey dinner, what do you think?"

"Not really," says Jennifer from England. "Traditionally the British used to eat roast goose for Christmas; until this bird lost popularity in the 1960s."

"Actually, do you mind, in Lithuania we prefer to have a meatless 12 dish supper," adds Milda.

"Okay, whatever we eat, we have to organize our main feast on Christmas Eve, agree or not," Luis from Spain tries to mediate.

"Well no," says Patrizia, "For us Italians, the lunch on Christmas Day is the most important event." Things are starting to look complicated.

"Who is coming to class on the 25th," our teacher Song asks. My Iranian and Nigerian classmates raise their hands, indicating they're not particularly concerned about commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ; yet glad to join the Christmas exchange of gifts organized that day (a symbolic event for some). My Korean classmate won't go to class on the 25th. In her country Christmas is popular, despite there being only a small number of Christians.

Surely, for everyone that celebrates Christmas the essence is about family, love and food, is it not? "Well, I feel that misses the religious side of it," my Filipino friend corrects me. And for China it is different as well. In China, this increasingly popular holiday is celebrated with lovers and friends, rather than with family. Restaurants promote special Christmas menus and are booked solid with tables for two. And for groups of friends it is the perfect opportunity to massively hit the entertainment scene of clubs, bars and KTV.

As it turns out, this cross-cultural Hangzhou Christmas is about reconciling the differences. And so we will celebrate with those who wish, involving: Home cooked food from Spanish, Italian and Brazilian cuisine on Christmas Eve, Chinese turkey (i.e., Peking duck) on Christmas Day, followed by clubbing for those interested, and leaving time to go to Church for those who want.

I wish you a merry Christmas, happy holiday, or simply a wonderful day!

By Maurits Mens (from the Netherlands)

Source: City Express

Editor: Guo Changdong


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