Christmas in China


ImageDo people in China celebrate Christmas?  Until a couple decades ago the answer was, “No.”   Sure, Christians in China celebrated Christmas; but, because Christmas is considered a religious holiday, the nation of China did not celebrate Christmas.  Slowly but surely the celebration of Christmas is making inroads in the Chinese nation.  It still is not a national holiday.  Government offices, stores, restaurants, and other places of business are still open on Christmas day.  However, the glamour, the lights, the gaiety, the festivity of Christmas is spreading to cities all over China.

In China the Christmas season starts with a bang.  Literally.  As Christmas is the season of light, fireworks light up the opening of the Christmas season.  Jugglers and acrobats also welcome the Christmas season with their antics.  Just as food plays a big part of Christmas in the west, feasting is a major part of the Chinese Christmas celebration.

Christians in China call Christmas “Sheng Dan Jieh,” meaning Holy Birth Festival.  Many of them celebrate the birth of Christ by attending church services.  Churches report that attendance at these Christmas services is growing every year even among non-religious people.

Just as with other festivals people enjoy decorating their houses for Christmas.  Christmas trees, known as “trees of light,” are decorated with paper chains, paper flowers, and paper lanterns.  Houses are lit with beautiful paper lanterns.

Santa Claus does make an appearance in China where he is called Dun Che Lao Ren, Christmas Old Man, or Lan Khoong-Khoong, Nice Old Father.  Children do not leave him cookies and milk or write him letters asking for gifts, but they enjoy seeing Santa in the malls and marketplaces of China and getting photographs made with him.

Traditionally, gifts are not exchanged at Christmas but at the Chinese New Year instead.  As years go by and Christmas becomes a bigger part of the Chinese culture, however, exchanging Christmas cards and gifts at Christmas time is becoming more popular.

Peking Duck (a favorite festival dish in China)

Ingredients

  • 1 (4 pound) whole duck, dressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 orange, sliced in rounds
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  • 5 green onions
  • 1/2 cup plum jam
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped chutney

Directions

  1. Rinse the duck inside and out, and pat dry. Cut off tail and discard. In a small bowl, mix together the cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, white pepper and cloves. Sprinkle one teaspoon of the mixture into the cavity of the duck. Stir one tablespoon of the soy sauce into the remaining spice mixture and rub evenly over the entire outside of the bird. Cut one of the green onions in half and tuck inside the cavity. Cover and refrigerate the bird for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
  2. Place duck breast side up on a rack in a big enough wok or pot and steam for an hour adding a little more water, if necessary, as it evaporates. Lift duck with two large spoons, and drain juices and green onion.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Place duck breast side up in a roasting pan and prick skin all over using a fork.
  4. Roast for 30 minutes in the preheated oven. While the duck is roasting, mix together the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and honey. After 30 minutes, brush the honey mixture onto the duck and return it to the oven. Turn the heat up to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C). Roast for 5 minutes, or until the skin is richly browned. Do not allow the skin to char.
  5. Prepare the duck sauce by mixing the plum jam with the sugar, vinegar and chutney in a small serving bowl. Chop remaining green onions and place them into a separate bowl. Place whole duck onto a serving platter and garnish with orange slices and fresh parsley. Use plum sauce and onions for dipping.
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1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Enedina Says:

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