Christmas in China – Do Chinese People Celebrate Christmas?

Christmas in China – The Complete Guide to Chinese Christmas

The question on your lips… Do Chinese people celebrate Christmas?

A few years ago, the answer to this question was a definite no, but in the last few years, probably due to its consumerist vocation, Christmas in China has become as popular as Halloween in China!

Christmas in China – Why celebrate it?

Christmas in China – The build-up

Christmas in China – The Vocab

Christmas in China – The Carols

Episode 5 of the LTL Podcast.

In this week we talk about what it’s like in China during Christmas.

Why celebrate Christmas in China?

Obviously, the people who celebrate Christmas in China has nothing to do with whether they are religious or not, in most instances anyway.

It is in fact seen as another great opportunity for celebrations and shopping time coming from western capitalism.

It’s obviously a huge opportunity for high street retailers to take advantage of the generosity of people around this time of year, and they’d be foolish not to jump on board.

Christmas in China - Christmas lights in Chaoyang, Beijing
Christmas in China – Christmas lights in Chaoyang, Beijing

Therefore, for people living in China’s biggest cities, it has become more frequent to come across huge Christmas trees and Christmas fairs.

A decade or two ago this certainly wouldn’t have been the case even in Beijing or Shanghai.

Also seeing a western Santa Claus giving presents to Chinese kids while parents taste the typical food people eat in the West for Christmas has become a a very familiar scene in these kind of events.

As each year goes on this becomes more and more common even if the religious element of the festival doesn’t apply to many in China.

Conversely, life is harder for the ones that really want to celebrate Christmas in China as a religious holiday.

Chinese Holidays Explained - How Do Chinese Public Holidays Work? Thumbnail

Chinese Holidays Explained – How Do Chinese Public Holidays Work?

Chinese Holidays: Chinese Public Holidays 2019/2020 Happy Spring Festival in Chinese: 春节快乐 Chinese National Holidays can be very complicated and unpredictable, since a lot of them depend on the dates of the Lunar calendar which changes every year. There are…

In the last years, according to the Associated Press, “many Christians say their faith has been singled out because authorities, wary of its rapid growth, are seeking to curb its spread in a campaign that has targeted China’s most thriving Christian communities”.

These kind of actions have been particularly harsh towards believers of Zhejiang province.

Zhejiang, in effect, has one of the largest Protestant populations of China and it seems that Government authorities are worried about the “possibility that Christians may rival in size the 85 million members of the ruling Communist Party”.

The build up to Christmas in China

Here’s the deal:

Despite the obstacles and difficulties, this magical holiday with its lights, colours and gifts attracts a lot of Chinese people that take part to Christmas themed events more than westerners do.

Impressive and picturesque displays of lights can be seen outside pretty much every large shopping mall in China’s major cities, sometimes up to a month before Christmas Day itself.

Turkey - Christmas Vocabulary in Mandarin
Find out more Christmas Vocab in Chinese with our Blog about Christmas Words in Mandarin

From a western point of view, seeing Chinese people getting closer to Christmas traditions is like watching Jack Skeleton from The Nightmare Before Christmas trying to introduce the mysterious and attractive holiday in “Halloween Town”.

Just as all the characters in the movie, when Chinese people see Christmas trees, sparkling lights and shining bows, they seem to wonder “What’s this, what’s this?!”.

Unable to resist the lure of the atmosphere, they are magnetically attracted to it.

Merry Christmas in Chinese – Chinese Christmas Vocabulary

Hoping that the consequences of this unnatural introduction of the holiday will not be negative as the ones in Burton’s movie, I leave wishing you a Merry Christmas in Mandarin 圣诞节快乐 (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè), not forgetting a Happy New Year 新年快乐 (Xīnnián kuàilè) also!

Chinese Christmas Vocabulary

We have decided to give you some new Chinese Christmas vocabulary.

It’ll be perfect for making conversation around the dinner table, especially if you’re planning on spending your holiday here in China with Chinese friends or a host family.

You’ll be able to talk about your own traditions in Chinese and help your Chinese friends to learn about Christmas.

First and foremost, let’s learn some of the most important phrases!

How to say Merry Christmas in Chinese?

Merry Christmas in Chinese
Merry Christmas in Chinese

Why are you here?

Of course, you want to know how to wish someone a Merry Christmas, so here it is:

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐).

The literal breakdown of this sentence is:

We Wish You Christmas Happy

Not so difficult to remember. Make sure to memorize these two characters 圣诞 (shèngdàn) “Holy + birth”, cause they are often used in Christmas related expressions.

NOTE – You can use the Wǒmen zhù nǐ for most happy occasions (although note this is the plural form).

How to say Happy New Year in Chinese?

Happy New Year in Chinese
Happy New Year in Chinese

So, Christmas has passed and it’s a week later, we enter a New Year so what do you say?

Happy New Year!
Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐)

Remember, if you want to add “We wish you” before, then just add Wǒmen zhù nǐ before.

Despite the fact the Chinese New Year is celebrated at a different time, the turn of the New Year is still widely celebrated in China and you’ll be hard pressed to avoid any parties or get togethers.

TAKE CARE – You’ll also notice the structure is quite easy to remember. Just be aware the HAPPY part of the phrase (kuàilè) goes on the end of the phrase, not at the start like in English.

We went into even more depth here…

How Do You Say Happy New Year in Chinese? Thumbnail

How Do You Say Happy New Year in Chinese?

Happy New Year in Chinese: The Many Ways of Wishing Your Friends a Happy Spring Festival How do say Happy New Year in Chinese? That time of the Lunar Year has rolled around again, and we’re about to step out…

Chinese Christmas Traditions

OK, time for the best of the rest, and there’s plenty of them too.

Christmas Present - Chinese Christmas Words
Christmas Present – Chinese Christmas Words

Christmas Day – Shèngdàn jié (圣诞节)

Presents – Lǐwù (礼物)

Present Exchange – lǐwù jiāohuàn (礼物交换)

Advent Calendar – Jiànglín jié rìlì (降临节日历)

Christmas Carols –Shèngdàn sònggē (圣诞颂歌)

Snowman – Xuěrén (雪人)

Christmas Card – Shèngdàn hèkǎ (圣诞贺卡)

Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette: Top 5 Must Follow Rules Thumbnail

Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette: Top 5 Must Follow Rules

Chinese Gift Giving Etiquette – What to do, what to avoid Regarding Chinese Gift Giving… these pointers are seriously important! As a country with a millenary history, China boasts an ancient culture largely based on respect, relationships, and rituals which maintain…

Christmas Tree in Chinese and more Decorations!

Christmas Tree in Chinese and more!
Mistletoe in Chinese

Christmas Tree – Shèngdànshù (圣诞树)

Tinsel – Shèngdàn zhuāngshì pǐn (圣诞装饰品)

Christmas Lights – Shèngdàn dēngshì (圣诞灯饰)

Christmas Wreath – Shèngdàn huāhuán (圣诞花环)

Baubles – Shèngdàn cǎi qiú (圣诞彩球)

Mistletoe –Hú jìshēng (槲寄生)

Snowflake – Xuěhuā (雪花)

Chinese Christmas Food

Champagne - Christmas Words in Chinese
Champagne – Christmas Words in Chinese

Turkey –Huǒ jī (火鸡)

Panettone – Yìdàlì jiérì gāodiǎn (意大利节日糕点)

Nougat – Niú gá táng (牛轧糖)

Mulled Wine – Rè pútáojiǔ (热葡萄酒)

Champagne – Xiāngbīnjiǔ (香槟酒)

Christmas Crackers – Shèngdàn lā pào (圣诞拉炮)

Christmas Pudding – Shèngdàn bùdīng (圣诞布丁)

Chinese Christmas Story

The Chinese Christmas Story
The Chinese Christmas Story – Nativity

Nativity – Yēsū dànshēng (耶稣诞生)

Crib – Tóng chuáng (童床)

The three wise men – Sān wèi zhìzhě (三位智者)

Frankincense – Rǔxiāng (乳香)

Gold – Jīn (金)

Myrrh – Mò yào (没药)

Donkey – Lǘzi (驴子)

Ox – Niú (牛)

Santa in Chinese

Santa in Chinese and his Reindeer
Santa in Chinese and his Reindeer

Father Christmas / Santa Claus –Shèngdàn lǎorén (圣诞老人 literally ‘Christmas Old Man’)

Chimney / Yāncōng  (烟囱)

Stockings – Cháng tǒng wà (长筒袜)

Reindeer – Xùnlù (驯鹿)

Elfs – Jīnglíng (精灵)

Toys – wánjù (玩具)

Santa’s Workshop – shèngdàn lǎorén gōngchǎng (圣诞老人工厂)

Lapland – Lā pǔlán (拉普兰)

Sleigh –Xuěqiāo (雪橇)

Christmas Song in Chinese

In the spirit of Christmas, here is a (very simple) Shèngdàn sònggē just for you.

Christmas time is all about spreading happiness and good wishes so if there is one thing that you remember from this blog, it should be ‘shèngdàn kuàilè‘, which means Merry Christmas. Enjoy the festivities, from all of us at LTL!

Turkey - Christmas Vocabulary in Mandarin
Turkey – Christmas Vocabulary in Mandarin

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

And a happy New Year!
Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐)

Good tidings we bring
Wǒmen dài láile hǎo xiāoxī (我们带来了好消息)

To you and your kin
Gěi nǐ hé nǐ de jiārén (给你和你的家人)

We wish you a Merry Christmas
Wǒmen zhù nǐ shèngdàn kuàilè (我们祝你圣诞快乐)

And a happy New Year!
Xīnnián kuàilè! (新年快乐)

Let’s Learn some Christmas Carols in Chinese

So we know about Christmas in China and the vocab, now let’s learn how to sing some Christmas songs…

Santa Claus is Coming to Town in Chinese – 圣诞老人进城了

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
Hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑, 分送给小朋友
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, fēn sòng gěi xiǎopéngyǒu

看谁是乖宝宝, 礼物给他一大包 礼物给他一大包
kàn shéi shì guāi bǎobǎo, lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑.
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào.

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

Santa Claus in Chinese
Santa Claus in Chinese

带来礼物带来欢笑, 分送给小朋友
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, fēn sòng gěi xiǎopéngyǒu

看谁是乖宝宝, 礼物给他一大包 礼物给他一大包
kàn shéi shì guāi bǎobǎo, lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑.
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào.

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

带来礼物带来欢笑, 分送给小朋友
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, fēn sòng gěi xiǎopéngyǒu

看谁是乖宝宝, 礼物给他一大包 礼物给他一大包
kàn shéi shì guāi bǎobǎo, lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo lǐwù gěi tā yī dà bāo

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑.
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào.

嘿 小朋友 你不要怕, 圣诞老人进城了
hēi xiǎopéngyǒu nǐ bùyào pà, shèngdàn lǎorén jìn chéngle

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

带来礼物带来欢笑, 带来礼物带来欢笑
dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào, dài lái lǐwù dài lái huānxiào

Silent Night in Chinese – 平安夜

平安夜, 圣善夜! 万暗中, 光华射,
Píng’ān yè, shèng shàn yè! Wàn ànzhōng, guānghuá shè,

照着圣母, 照着圣嬰, 多少慈祥, 多少天真,
zhàozhe shèngmǔ, zhàozhe shèng yīng, duōshǎo cíxiáng, duōshǎo tiānzhēn,

静享天赐安眠, 静享天赐安眠.
jìng xiǎng tiāncì ānmián, jìng xiǎng tiāncì ānmián.

平安夜, 圣善夜, 牧羊人, 在旷野
Píng’ān yè, shèng shàn yè, mùyáng rén, zài kuàngyě,

忽然看见了天上光华, 听见天军唱哈利路亚
hūrán kànjiànle tiānshàng guānghuá, tīngjiàn tiān jūn chàng hā lì lù yà,

Silent Night in Chinese
Silent Night in Chinese

救主今夜降生, 救主今夜降生! 平安夜, 圣善夜!
jiù zhǔ jīnyè jiàngshēng, jiù zhǔ jīnyè jiàngshēng! Píng’ān yè, shèng shàn yè!

神子爱, 光皎洁, 救赎宏恩的黎明来到
Shénzi ài, guāng jiǎojié, jiùshú hóng ēn dí límíng lái dào,

圣容发出来荣光普照, 耶稣我主降生, 耶稣我主降生!
shèng róng fà chūlái róngguāng pǔzhào, yēsū wǒ zhǔ jiàngshēng, yēsū wǒ zhǔ jiàngshēng!

Jingle Bells in Chinese – 铃儿响叮当 

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当,
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒmen huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒmen zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

冲过大风雪, ,
Chōng guò dà fēng xuě ,

他们坐在雪橇上
tāmen zuò zài xuěqiāo shàng

奔驰过田野,
bēn chí guò tiányě,

欢笑又歌唱
huān xiào yòu gē chàng.

铃声响叮当
Língshēng xiǎng dīngdāng

Jingle Bells in Chinese
Jingle Bells in Chinese

你的精神多欢畅
nǐ de jīngshén duō huānchàng

今晚滑雪真快乐把滑雪歌儿唱, 嘿
Jīn wǎn huá xuě zhēn kuàilè,bǎ huá xuě gē ér chàng – hēi.

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当,
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒmen huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒ men zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

在一两天之前
Zài yī liǎng tiān zhī qián

大雪出外去游荡
dà xuě chū wài qù yóu dàng

打扮美丽小姑娘,她坐在我身旁
dǎbàn měilì xiǎo gūniang ,tā zuò zài wǒ shēnpáng .

那马儿瘦又老
Nà mǎ ér shòu yòu lǎo

它的命运多灾难
tā de mìngyùn duō zāinán

Christmas Carols in Chinese

把雪橇装进你旁边害的我们遭了殃
bǎ xuěqiāo zhuāng jìn nǐ pángbian hài de wǒmen zāo le yāng.

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒmen huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒ men zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

那里白雪闪银光
Nàlǐ báixuě shǎn yínguāng

趁着年轻好时光
chèn zhe niánqīng hǎo shíguāng

带着心爱的姑娘 把滑雪歌儿唱
dài zhe xīnài de gūniang bǎ huá xuě gē ér chàng

她有一匹栗色马
Tā yǒu yī pǐ lìsè mǎ

它一日行千里
tā yī rì xíng qiān lǐ

我们把它套在雪橇上,就飞奔向前方
wǒmen bǎ tā tào zài xuěqiāo shàng jiù fēi bēn xiàng qián fāng.

叮叮当叮叮当铃儿响叮当,
Dīng dīng dāng dīng dīng dāng líng ér xiǎng dīng dāng

我们滑雪多快乐我们坐在雪橇上
Wǒ men huá xuě duō kuài lè wǒ men zuò zài xuě qiāo shàng

叮叮当 嘿
Dīng dīng dāng – hēi

There we have it, a complete guide to Christmas in China. Songs, vocabulary and everything else in between!

Now you know about Christmas in China, do you have anymore questions? What about any experiences of your own?

Share them below in our comment section!

Christmas in China – FAQ’s

Do Chinese people celebrate Christmas?

A few years ago, the answer to this question was a definite no, but in the last few years, probably due to its consumerist vocation, Christmas in China has become as popular as Halloween in China!

Is December 25th a working day in China?

Yes it is.

If I work as an English teacher in China, do I get Christmas Day off?

Christmas Day is, in theory, just another day in China, but it will depend on your situation. Are you are a private learning centre (if so then you will probably be working), or at a public school with set holidays (if so then you are probably off).

Do you notice it’s Christmas in China?

It would depend on the size of the city. Any cities outside the top tiered ones, probably not.

However, despite the obstacles and difficulties, this magical holiday with its lights, colours and gifts attracts a lot of Chinese people that take part in Christmas themed events more than westerners do. Consumerism and a fascination with western culture therefore means the bigger cities show off big Christmas trees and lights moreso than ever before.

How do you say Merry Christmas in Chinese?

Merry Christmas in Mandarin 圣诞节快乐 (Shèngdàn jié kuàilè).

How do you say Christmas Day in Chinese?

Christmas Day in Chinese is Shèngdàn jié (圣诞节)

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