While prohibiting all things Christmas, China seeks to fuel nationalist sentiment among its population and teach the young about the “evil Western world.”
by Li Mingxuan
Goodbye, Santa Claus
On Christmas Eve last year, a Three-Self church in the Liaozhong district of Shenyang, the capital of the northeastern province of Liaoning, organized a performance themed “Blessings of Santa Claus” for its congregation members and government officials, who were seated in the front row.
“Western Santa Claus, you have been with us for more than half a century,” a state-approved clergy member was addressing an actor playing Father Christmas on stage. “But our Christianity has taken the road of ‘sinicization’: we have our pastors and seminaries, and the Communist Party and our government lead us. From now on, we will no longer need Western missionaries, nor we will rely on anti-China forces. We won’t be overthrown by the United States and other Western countries. I ask you formally, here and now, to leave the stage of our China!”
He then urged Santa Claus to “take the spirit of 19th CCP National Congress and Xi Jinping’s speeches to the West, especially to Trump in the US, to study.” To which Santa replied while unfolding a Chinese flag: “China is too powerful! Uncle Xi is too awesome!” The performance ended with the singing of the “Ode to the Motherland” – a popular patriotic song since the founding of the People’s Republic.
Instead of Christmas, the government is urging people to celebrate the “Great Man’s Day” – the birthday of Mao Zedong, born on December 26. A cake with Chinese characters for “Happy birthday to Mao Zedong” was placed in front of a white marble statue of Mao Zedong in Wangzishan Temple in Pingyi county in Linyi, a city in the eastern province of Shandong.
“Celebrating Christmas means betraying China.”
Since the start of the new school year in 2019, schools throughout China intensified patriotic education, indoctrinating children to hate anything “Western,” including democratic values and religion. Christmas has been designated as one of the “evils.”
On December 23, the Education and Technology Bureau of Qianxi county in Bijie, a prefecture-level city in the southwestern province of Guizhou, issued a notice prohibiting students from celebrating Christmas. The attached material misleadingly claims that Christmas is directly related to the destruction of the Old Summer Palace by the British and French troops in 1860. Known in China as Yuanming Yuan (the Garden of Perfection and Light), the main imperial residence in Beijing that housed numerous historical and art treasures was considered the most beautiful palace in the country, and its destruction remains a painful issue for the Chinese.
Hoping to provoke nationalist sentiments, the authorities falsely stated in the notice that the allied forces designated the night of preparation to attack the palace as “Christmas Eve,” the day of the burning of the Yuanming Yuan on December 25 as “Christmas,” and December 26 the “Carnival day” to celebrate “the offensive victory” and humiliate the Chinese. In reality, Christmas has been observed in China since the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
CCP’s lies seem to be working, especially on the young. Bitter Winter has received numerous reports from disturbed parents who recounted how the anti-Western propaganda is infringing on their children.
A woman from Wuchang city in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang told Bitter Winter that her son’s school had intensified the “patriotic education” ahead of Christmas. This has had a substantial effect on the children: one of her son’s classmates started exhibiting anger toward everything Wester.
“The boy seemed truly angry. On the way home from school one day, he started tearing down an image of Santa Claus posted on the door of someone’s house, saying that he hated people from the West because they burned Yuanming Yuan,” the woman said. She added that after months of indoctrination, the boy started blaming himself for celebrating his birthday according to the “Western” calendar, not the Lunar.
The day after Christmas, Ms. Wu from Heilongjiang’s Mudanjiang city was about to buy some imported flour, when her 12-year-old daughter started objecting. “My child told me that we should not purchase products from abroad and that celebrating foreign festivals, like Christmas, is a manifestation of the ‘blind worship of foreign things, it is unpatriotic and treacherous,’” Ms. Wu remembered. Shocked by such statements coming from her daughter, she asked where this was coming from. The girl explained that she was taught these things every day at school, adding that her teachers call Christmas “an invasion by Western reactionary forces into Chinese culture.”
“The government’s propaganda to boycott Christmas is the source of endless troubles,” a teacher from Guangdong Province told Bitter Winter. “Those who want to celebrate Christmas will be labeled as ‘traitors to China’ and publicly criticized.”