Christmas comes this weekend and people around the world have started wrapping gifts to put under their trees. Although it isn't a traditional holiday in China, the Yuletide has grown in popularity, as a season to gather with friends and loved ones before heading home for Spring Festival at the start of next year.
It's Christmas time in China! Stores are filled with decorations, and children are at home for winter break. Christmas sales are everywhere, drawing in customers and curious window-shoppers alike.
Chinese love buying gifts. And most Christmas-shoppers have no qualms getting something for themselves while they are at it. Good news for the world's second largest economy. December retail sales are up this year.. by a whopping 10.8% percent.
Christmas takes on a special meaning for Chinese Christians. For them, Christmas-time is a time to count your blessings and reflect on the year gone by. Churches invite community members to stop by, hear a sermon and pray.
The Yuletide is a relatively new holiday in China. Images of Santa and his reindeer didn't become mainstream until well into the 1990's. And when it doesn't fall on a weekend, most Chinese have to work on December 25th.
For most Chinese, Christmas isn't about religion or tradition - its about going out with friends - to cafes restaurants and bars. In just a couple of weeks, hundreds of millions of Chinese workers will jump onto trains to head home for Spring Festival. Big cities like Beijing lose around half their population at the start of each lunar year, leaving quieter streets and many closed stores behind them.
All the more reason to enjoy a night out with your friends while you can.