Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas in China Recap

I know many expats struggle with feelings of homesickness around the holidays each year. While I've had my own feelings of loneliness at times, the holidays this year were actually quite enjoyable for me. I've met some wonderful people in China and they made me feel welcome and appreciated. I am fortunate that my new friends want to learn all about my holidays and traditions and were excited to celebrate with me. I can honestly say that over both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays I didn't miss being in the states one bit!

On Christmas eve and Christmas day I made plans with friends to have dinner and do a gift exchange. You can read about my plans here. On Christmas day I had to teach two classes, but it was final exams week so I really just had to sit back and listen to student presentations. 

On Wednesday evening (Christmas eve) I received a call that the dean and a few other people from the English department wanted to host a special lunch for me and the other two foreign teachers on Thursday in honor of Christmas for us. We had a formal Chinese meal and it was delicious. It was a really nice gesture and I was even more surprised when they presented us with gifts to celebrate as well. I received a lovely scarf and a snuff bottle that is painted from the inside. It was presented in a wooden box. One side has a beautiful Chinese image and the other side is painted with the school logo.

I was also delighted to receive fruit and small gifts of candy from several of my students and my teaching assistant. The Chinese Christmas tradition is to give apples or oranges on Christmas eve. They do not really celebrate the holiday although you will see Christmas trees and other decorations around the malls and shopping centers. It appears to be more of a commercial celebration than anything else. The apples and oranges were beautifully wrapped and presented. My students told me that apples mean 'safety' and oranges mean 'may your dreams come true'. Tucked inside the folds of paper were little pieces of chocolate. I'm told that means 'may there be sweetness in your heart'. It was all very unexpected and heartwarming. I was expecting Christmas to feel pretty much like a normal day here in China and I felt extremely honored that so many people went out of their way to celebrate a holiday with me that they don't typically acknowledge. From the meals, to the gifts, to the flood of social media messages on QQ and WeChat, everyone really made me feel very blessed this Christmas.

Decorative Fruit

Apple in a Gift Box

I hope you had the same joy on your Christmas day! 

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