December 23, 2006


In China, Feeling Snowed Under by Christmas (Edward Cody, 12/23/06, Washington Post)

Scrooge is not a familiar character in China, and "Bah, humbug" does not easily translate to Chinese. But a group of graduate students set off a spirited debate here Friday with a crotchety screed condemning Chinese people for their growing tendency to celebrate Christmas.

The students, from such elite institutions as Tsinghua, Peking and People's universities, wrote a weighty-sounding open letter complaining that Christmas is a Christian holiday imported from the West and suggesting that Chinese should stick to the traditions and festivals observed in their own culture.

"We 10 doctoral students from different universities and research institutes solemnly call on our countrymen to be cautious about Christmas, to wake from their collective cultural coma and give Chinese culture the dominant role," they wrote in a letter posted Thursday on the government-controlled China Daily Web site.

In some ways, the students' sentiments harked back to former policies of China's Communist Party, when foreigners were regarded with suspicion and Chinese who fraternized with them were warned of the dangers of "spiritual pollution." But more broadly, the students took issue with the pervasive influence of Western culture since China opened to the world 25 years ago. They also resent the willingness of many Chinese to embrace foreign goods and fashions as superior to their own.

"Western culture has been changing from a breeze and a drizzle into a wild wind and a heavy storm," they declared. "This is vividly embodied in the rising popularity of Christmas."

Such are the wages of America's complete cultural hegemony.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2006 8:54 AM

Boxerism. We have seen it before.

If we really believe what we say about freedom, we will applaud and support real multiculturalism, and we will condemn and discourage oppression.

Does this bring us into opposition to the jailhouse keepers around the world? Why, yes, it does. Every measure they may take to strengthen their control further undermines their own legitimacy.

Posted by: Lou Gots at December 23, 2006 9:05 AM

This complaint is nothing but pure xenophobic ignorance. Christmas is enjoyed by millions of Chinese in both Hong Kong and Taiwan, and their culture is no less Chinese than in mainland China.

Moreover, there are probably now also more Christians in China than there are members of the Communist Party. This alone would explain why so many mainland Chinese are now celebrating Christmas.

Sadly, the students show yet again that having an education is not in any way necessarily the same as possessing wisdom and common sense.

Posted by: X at December 23, 2006 10:47 AM

"give Chinese culture the dominant role" What is Chinese culture? Traditional Chinese culture was thoroughly destroyed by the Communists in the last miserable century. What is Chinese culture? Buddhaism was imported from India, Communism was French/German/Russian. Confucianism, Taoism, ancestor worships were Chinese original, but were deemed reactionary and superstitious by the progressive doctoral students. As a matter of fact, Christianity arrived in China at least a century earlier than communism. Christmas was celebrated along with ancestor worships before Karl Marx and Lenin were born. Christmas was more Chinese than the students could ever imagine.

Posted by: ic at December 23, 2006 3:33 PM

Wow, 10 doctoral students. Quite a mass movement they've got going there.

Posted by: PapayaSF at December 23, 2006 5:52 PM