Time for cheers and tears

Updated: 2014-12-25 08:26

By Sava Hassan(China Daily)

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Being a Canadian living in China for more than 10 years, I feel fortunate to share the joys of Western and Chinese festivals with my Chinese wife, friends and students.

With Christmas here and the New Year round the corner, I like to walk the streets of Chinese cities to observe the moods of the people and share their cheers and tears. I have noticed a tremendous change in Chinese people's attitude toward Western festivals, especially Christmas and New Year. It is not uncommon nowadays to see Chinese people celebrating with foreigners, some of them neighbors, others friends.

Shopping malls and department stores rise to the occasion and decorate their stores with Christmas trees complete with the customary hangings, and buntings and festoons. Public places, such as parks and squares, too get a festive look. And Chinese people rush to the stores offering season discounts and sales.

Educational institutions grant foreign teachers and staff days off to celebrate the festivals, and some even organize parties so that their students can enjoy the festivities.

When I was living in Canada, people put a great deal of emphasis on the celebration of Christmas and New Year. Consequently, I started sharing their enthusiasm. No matter where I went, I couldn't escape the spirit of the holidays, although I've always preferred to celebrate festivals with my family.

During my stay in China, I organized special classes to tell my students about how people in the West celebrate festivals. I have also encouraged them to exchange gifts as a token of affection toward each other and organized parties in the school to enjoy the occasion with colleagues and students.

Here's wishing everybody, irrespective of religious beliefs, a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. I hope 2015 brings success and joy, and keeps you hail and hearty.

SAVA HASSAN, via e-mail

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