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The spirit of Christmas

By Zhou Wenting | Shanghai Star | Updated: 2014-12-26 16:00

The spirit of Christmas

Sheshan Notre Dame Cathedral is the highest church in Shanghai. [Photo by Gao Erqing/Shanghai Star]

The festive season involves lots of shopping and parties, but Christmas is, at its core, a religious holiday. Zhou Wenting visits Shanghai's churches that are in the midst of preparing for one of the most important holy days in the Christian calendar.

Shanghai can offer a lot at Christmas - wild parties, festive markets and plenty of shopping. But the city also has many historical churches where you can celebrate Christmas in a more traditional way - even if you are not religious.

Missionaries poured into Shanghai in the latter half of the 19th century and built the city's first churches. From the 1920s, newly-constructed churches entered a new phase, combining local and Western elements to fit Shanghai's compact urban landscape.

Of the more than 300 churches that have been conserved, we look at six that are worth visiting over Christmas.

The largest Christian church:

Shanghai Community Church


Immigrants from different countries raised funds for the construction of this church in 1925. It imitated an English style and was built with red bricks. The roof of the church has scissor-shaped timberwork and decorative glass windows.

Believers of different denominations of Christianity worshiped in the church and later some Chinese Christians of high social status joined them.

It reopened in the 1980s, and has become the most popular church for the expat Christian community.

It has a choir of about 60 people and holds grand musical services for Christmas and Easter celebrations.

Tel: 021-6437-6576

Address: 53 Hengshan Road, Xuhui district 徐汇区衡山路53号

Christmas worship: 7:00 pm on Dec 24 and 11 am on Dec 25

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