Chinese Christmas Eve

I joined a Chinese Christmas party held by a friend of my father on December 26th. As you may know, Chinese people do not celebrate Christmas, but to my surprise, it seemed that they now treated Christmas as Chinese New Year (Spring Festival).

Just as Christmas is an important holiday to some Americans, Spring Festival is an important holiday to some Chinese. Our Spring Festival lasts about a month. Families start to prepare 20 days before the Spring Festival. We prepare food, clean houses, and hold special activities such as eating Laba Zhou, Ji Zao and so on.

At Chinese New Year’s Eve, all family members gather together and enjoy big dinner (similar to a Christmas dinner). But we do not give gifts, instead, children can receive Yasui Money (small red packets with money inside) from their parents and grandparents.

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My father’s friend who I call “Uncle Zhang” is in his 50s. He came to America 30 years ago, and now all of his family is in Columbus. He has a big family: his wife, 2 children, his parents, his sister and her family, and his mother- in-law.

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It was a wonderful night. When we arrived, Uncle Zhang’s sister had already prepared a big dinner. Perhaps because they have lived in the U.S. for a long time, some of their traditional Chinese habits have changed. For example, in China we do not use “common chopsticks” for all the dishes. The dinner is different from a traditional Chinese New Year’s dinner too. It is easy to understand as some traditional cooking material is not available in the U.S. But to my surprise, the parents of Uncle Zhang gave us a “red packet,” which is a traditional Chinese Spring Festival custom. They also gave us a small package with gifts in it.

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To conclude, it was a memorable night and gave me an insight into how Chinese mix American customs with their own traditions. For example, they treat Christmas as Chinese Spring Festival: gathering all families together, making a big dinner with both traditional Chinese dishes and American desserts, and giving us red packets as well as Christmas gifts.