Contextualizing Christmas in China

Contextualizing Christmas in China January 17, 2017

If you are interested in contextualization in China, you might want to check out Ruth Wang’s article, “Yellow Christmas.” She points out that many Chinese people complain that Christmas is a “Western” holiday, so it shouldn’t be celebrated in China.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

How are churches responding? She writes,

The programs designed by Chinese Christians to celebrate Christmas always include the birth of Jesus, testimonies of believers and calling of pastors. What’s more, they have added traditional Chinese culture to these programs, which is down to earth.

The most typical programs are gospel crosstalk, comedy, allegro and skits, especially in the rural church. These performances are adapted from real stories in life, telling audience how to honor parents, handle the relationship between lovers and so on. The family ethics drama style performances instruct people how to solve some practical problems. We can also see this type of Christmas programs in some churches made up of workers in China’s one-tier and second-tier cities.

The above examples concerns teaching. Wang also notes how localization involves the forms of celebrating Christmas.

In addition, the middle-aged and old female Christians in the church of rural-urban fringe zone like performing fan dancing at Christmas party. Fan Dancing is one of the traditional folk dancing of the Han nationality with several thousand years of history. When the traditional dancing met with hymns, the party was lighted up. The grandmothers put on the costumes of the Yangko dance (a kind of traditional folk dancing in north China) and carry baskets while dancing.

The Christmas party of many Chinese churches has inherited the style of traditional Chinese Spring Festival Gala broadcast on CCTV every year. The party will be host by two men and two women wearing canonicals. The program list also includes some modern-style performances. The Christmas is not just Westerners’, it also belongs to the Chinese.

What examples have you seen where you live? What do you think about the instances Wang lists above?




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