BEIJING, Dec. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Christmas is very much a product of commercial marketing in the west. Businessmen used to do the same things to promote Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.
Chinese are festival fans. Many of them, the young in particular, enjoy Christmas, but with an Oriental wisdom or twist. They see it as an occasion for shopping spree and fun-seeking.
In Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi'an and even second-tier Chinese cities, Christmas has become an important celebration for urbanites. Along with New Year's Day and the Chinese Lunar New Year, Christmas is a great joy for both Chinese and local foreigners. As an unofficial Chinese festival, Christmas, is celebrated mostly by young people.
Cai Sujian, president of China Luxury Institute, said Chinese buyers are gaining a more global perspective and open attitude toward foreign cultures, especially among the urban youth born in the 1980s and 1990s.
Zhao Qing, 28, recently bought her boyfriend a 2,000-yuan Montblanc pen as a birthday and Christmas gift.
"I heard that Montblanc has been in Taiyuan for ten years. It has a good reputation," said Zhao, who earns just around 2,000 yuan a month in a government-affiliated institution in Shanxi.
"China's rising consumption power is changing the global luxury market landscape," Cai said, noting that while luxury brands saw no growth in European markets amid the global meltdown and euro zone debt woes, China's strong purchasing power assures robust growth.
Business in Christmas decorations booms
While Westerners are cutting their budgets and spending less on Christmas products, Chinese customers are, on the contrary, more generous and demanding over the holiday.
"In general, orders from domestic companies are by no means comparable with foreign ones," said Chen Jinlin, secretary-general of the Yiwu Christmas Products Industry Association. "But, in most cases, they are more interested in expensive items, always asking for 'something more extravagant', while regular and traditional products are more popular with foreign customers." Both sides are equally important.
The festive mood seems more evident this year as businesses in many Chinese cities jumped in to the Christmas spirit earlier than before.
Malls, restaurants and bars in Beijing put up Christmas decorations as early as late November. Castle of colorful lights, corridor of lights and Christmas wall are built in front of department stores. Anyone who walks in the business districts and shopping centers in most Chinese cities today can enjoy the pleasant contrast of the red glow of Chinese lanterns and the deep green of Christmas trees. The two colors are a perfect match for the Chinese.
Upcoming holiday bodes well for retail business
As Christmas and the New Year's Day approach, various decorations have been built by shopping malls, hotels and so on to warm up for festival sales promotions. The oncoming Christmas and New Year's Day bode well for retail business in cities such as Shanghai, where consumers start to benefit from various sales promotions in department stores and shopping centers.
Online shop owners on Taobao Mall, China's largest business-to-consumer platform, launch promotions during the festival to boost sales during the traditionally slow business season. Despite the avalanche of complaints following the Singles' Day sales boom, online shops are keen to launch similar promotions during the shopping seasons such as the New Year's Day and the Spring Festival. They also promised to dole out presents on Christmas Eve.
Giant Santas are seen in front of restaurants in major cities across the country, promoting luxurious dinners for Christmas Eve. A fancy Christmas Eve dinner, which comes with music, art performances and raffle games, is priced at 988 yuan (150 U.S. dollars) per head in upscale Shanghai restaurants.
But instead of roast turkey and lamb, a growing number of restaurants are offering traditional Chinese cuisines, such as spicy hot-pots. "I plan to eat spicy Sichuanese food on Christmas with friends," said Yu Lin, a young white-collar worker in Shanghai. "What matters is not what you eat but who you eat with. Christmas is a time meant to be spent with family and friends."
Roast turkey with eight rice delicacies; spaghetti and hotpot; apple pie and steamed stuffed bun; red wine with green tea: Christmas feast with both Chinese and Western flavors were creative in Christmas menu.
Christmas has become increasingly popular among atheist Chinese in recent years, but mostly as an occasion for shopping spree and fun-seeking.
Many Chinese Christians, however, said they would observe the day commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ in the traditional way -- go to the Church, hear the Mass and pray.