Ding dang, ding ding dang…
THE CHRISTMAS that we used to know was essentially a Pagan tradition taken by Christianity and exploited by Capitalism. The Christmas tree is clearly a pagan element; Saint Nicholas is a biblical saint; and the gift-giving culture is pure commercialism. So what’s in it for China and Confucianism?
China doesn't officially celebrate Christmas, although Confucianism has always been favorably compared to Christianity: Confucius is a shengren; The Bible is shengjing; Christmas in China is shengdanjie, and so on.
A Christmas with Chinese Characteristics?
Historically, many Western scholars still regard Confucius as a (biblical) “saint.” Master Kong is known as a ‘Heiliger’ (a holy man) in the German-speaking world. (The Germans should know – they are the descendants of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation.) So, why doesn't Saint Confucius team up with his colleague Saint Nicholas (alias Santa Claus) and create a ‘Christmas with Chinese Characteristics’?
“The CHINESE nation was not long after the flood […] This being so, it must necessarily follow that the first inhabitants of CHINA had likewise the true knowledge of GOD and of the creation of the world.” –Randal Taylor, 1691
Needless to say, China is the biggest manufacturer of toys and Christmas decoration, largely for export to the West. So, in a way, China is already sponsoring the global X-mas fete. If the Chinese really wanted, they could make Christmas in their own image. Master Confucius was there first, of course. He lived long before Jesus Christ. All China has to do is to rejuvenate its old affinity with the European mission - and even create some kind of benign competition for the future of Chinese Christmas.
Superpowers Do Have Super Powers, No?
Now, you may treat rujia de shengdanjie or "Confucian Christmas" as a bad joke and dismiss the seriousness of it. But mind you, the Christmas celebrated in the US is already a very different one from its European original. That’s because superpowers do use their global influence to their advantage, and with China slowly turning into the world’s largest economy, Chinese elements are going to influence the way we celebrate global festivals anyway.
So while in awe, why not start in small steps, say, by decorating your Christmas tree with holly tianlongs (heavenly dragons), or by buying lovely chocolate terracotta warriors, or even a white-chocolate Confucius? I’ll buy one, first thing in 2014. Shangdanjie kuai-le!
Image credit: Elwynn/Shutterstock.com