Thanksgiving Day takes on Chinese characteristics

Updated: 2012-11-22 03:27

By Gan Tian (China Daily)

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Orphans and disabled children in Light Love Family, a Beijing-based NGO, will enjoy a special meal cooked for them by top chefs on Thursday.

Wang Yue, who is organizing the event on behalf of Shinho Enterprise, said they are receiving the special treat because Thursday is a special day when people do good things for each other.

That is how Wang interprets Thanksgiving, which despite being one of the most celebrated holidays in North America, remains little known by the majority of Chinese.

Around 10 chefs from established restaurants, such as Quanjude, which specializes in roast ducks, and the Beijing Hotel, will cook traditional Chinese dishes for more than 100 teachers and students in Light Love Family, which helps homeless children.

Shi Qinghua, head of the NGO, said the best thing about the feast is "giving family warmth to the children".

Thanksgiving, celebrated on the second Monday of October in Canada and on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States, has not been embraced in China in the way other Western holidays such as Valentine's Day or Christmas have been.

Many shopping malls found Thanksgiving a challenge to turn into a shopping festival and launch large-scale promotions.

Beijing-based luxury shopping mall Jinbao Place was going to celebrate Thanksgiving with a charity event, but it was canceled at the last minute.

Angela Zhao, marketing and communication supervisor of the shopping mall, said Jinbao will arrange its marketing activities based on the requirements of different labels within the shopping mall.

"These labels, however, do not recognize Thanksgiving Day, because this holiday is not recognized among our customers. This holiday cannot attract them to come and spend," Zhao said.

Thanksgiving Day falls between the Chinese national holiday Golden Week, and Christmas and the Spring Festival, undermining its marketing potential to become a shopping festival, Zhao said.

"It's stuck between the big shopping festivals for most Chinese," Zhao said, adding that it is the main reason Chinese consumers usually ignore Thanksgiving.

However, the values represented by Thanksgiving are shared with some Chinese.

Recognized by an increasing number of educated Chinese, the holiday has been translated in China by some international enterprises or individuals as a day of giving back.

"It is the best time to share the value of 'giving back' and 'gratefulness' to society," said Wang, citing the charity cooking event she has been organizing.

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