So it's Christmas Eve again. I've definitely been in China too long. Christmas just about slipped by unnoticed. It's odd how that happens, but it's to be expected. Well, no, not really, because Christmas, or something bearing a superficial resemblance to Christmas, at least, is getting ever more popular in China. Never mind that the overwhelming majority of Chinese people no almost nothing about Christmas or its meaning or any of the culture behind it.
Actually, that's what I like about Christmas in China, actually. It's more honest. It's gleefully commercial and purely an excuse to party with friends. It's not some neo-pagan worship of Mammon and Bacchus desperately trying to cloak itself in respectable Christianity and Peace and Good Will To All. And as gleefully commercial as Chinese Christmas is, it's a far, far cry from the total excess of consumerism jammed down Western throats for months leading up to the holiday.
Actually, I would be quite happy if Christmas in New Zealand really was just a celebration of Jesus' birth (for those who believe) and a chance to be with the family (for believers and non-believers alike). As it is, I have come to terms with the Chinese interpretation of Christmas and its simple honesty. I can't stand what Christmas has become in New Zealand. I guess if I were spending Christmas there, I would have to work very, very hard to shout out all the noise so that I could focus on the holiday itself without being driven insane.
But there's no point ranting about that. As Giraudoux put it:
Nous sommes dans la règne du veau d'or.
And it's too late.
But I quite like being here, sheltered from the excess.
Still, I couldn't help but think something was just a little out of place as I sat in a Muslim restaurant at lunchtime today staring at the Christmas decorations on the front door...
So it's Christmas Eve. It's foggy and smoggy and damply cold here in Beijing. Hopefully we'll get a nice dry northerly tonight to clear the air out. But we'll see what tomorrow brings.
Merry Christmas, everybody.