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Published: December 27th 2007
Sharing the Xmas Spirit
Catherine (Xie Lin Ping) & Maple (Shi Jing) of 071 “share" the Xmas Spirit. These are two of my tiniest students who good naturedly agreed to don the Mary Xmas dress for a cute photo opportunity!
Yes, it's been some months since I published a new blog, but this is proof I have not fallen off the edge of the earth! The approach of Xmas is always a good impetus to put pen to paper, or in this case, fingers to the keyboard! In the next week or so I will bring you up to speed with a synopsis of this past semester, my fourth at Taizhou Teachers College. That is if our appalling internet connections will allow! In the meantime, read and on and share in some of the fun of the past week or so of celebrating Xmas "Chinese Style".
This is my second Xmas in China and I’m still a little surprised by the enthusiastic adoption of this very Western Festival by my Chinese friends. This is especially as it falls so close to that most important Chinese Festival, Chinese New Year/Spring Festival.
However, on reflection, it really is not so difficult to see the connection between the two. Firstly, Xmas is traditionally the time where families and friends get together to share special foods, exchange gifts, give thanks for the good things in life and enjoy each others’ company. It is
Jennifer leads Jingle Bells
Jennifer (Zhu Lin) was voted as the best person to lead the singing of Jingle Bells. It is the most popular of all the Xmas songs.
a time for forgiveness of past misunderstandings- peace and goodwill to all.
I am told this is somewhat similar to the Chinese Spring Festival, which is increasingly important as Chinese families continue to be scattered throughout the country in the pursuit of better work and study opportunities to create a more affluent life. As is often the case in the West, in China there are so few chances to come together as a family, and even less so now with the impending changes to other National Holiday times as of 2008.
Secondly, Xmas is a retailers’ dream! In the United States, (and to a lesser extent in Europe, UK and Australia,) I am told that 70-80% of big department stores’ yearly income is collected in the month leading up to Xmas. That is a staggering statistic! Many of us are seduced into “spending up big”, often a lot more than we can afford, in the effort to please or impress others with our generosity. We are mesmerized by the bright lights, pretty packaging and persuasive sales talk. Enterprising Chinese traders are not going to miss such an opportunity!
This past week has been spent sharing some of
071 Sleigh mob
Members of Santa's sleigh outfit smile for the camera!
the traditions of Xmas with my English Major students, including singing Xmas songs. I have been both impressed and amused by the knowledge they have shared with me. Of course they wanted to hear about my personal experiences, so I challenged them to consider all the traditional images of Xmas (eg snow, warm clothes, hot meals and sitting by the fire) and how people in places like Australia might make changes due to the fact that it is the middle of summer and likely to be over 30 degrees C! It was not so difficult for them to imagine that many people spend the holiday at the beach, swimming, playing and enjoying a BBQ lunch of seafood rather than, or as well as, the traditional turkey! However, they had a bit more difficulty understanding why Santa Claus (Father Xmas) remained in his traditional (very hot!) red suit and didn’t strip down to T shirt and shorts and ride a surf board!
So to all my wonderful students, fellow colleagues and other friends at Taizhou Teachers College, a most heart-felt “Thank You” for making my life an absolute joy each and every day. To my friends and family in Australia
One of my most dynamic and amusing students King (Jin Tingting) decided her "clippy" sheep needed a bit of shade! We had been discussing the contrasting Xmas celebrations between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres!
and around the world, my thoughts are with you constantly and I look forward with pleasure to the time when we can next catch up. May you all enjoy a very Merry Xmas and Happy (Chinese) New Year. I encourage you all to share the true spirit of the Festive Season by giving the most precious gifts you have to your friends, families and others less fortunate than yourselves. These gifts do not necessarily cost a lot of money. They are your time, compassion, love and understanding.
P.S. Our Japanese friend Ken just became a very proud first-time father to a beautiful baby girl! Congratulations to you and your wife, Ken!
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