The panoramic sunrise over the Shanghai

Celebrating Christmas and New Year in China

New Year is, without doubt, the biggest festival in China. But in world cities like Shanghai, people also celebrate Christmas. LANXESS employee Judy Liao tells us about her plans for this winter.

“In Shanghai, people of different cultures live in close proximity to each other. As a result, Christmas is really well-known and celebrated on a grand scale.”
Judy Liao
LANXESS Shanghai

Parties, stylish outfits, and good food: That’s Christmas in Shanghai

Shanghai, the 23-million-megacity located on China’s east coast, is the commercial, financial, and cultural center of the People’s Republic of China. It is also where LANXESS China has its headquarters. Judy Liao works for the Polymer Additives Business Unit in Shanghai. Born in Taiwan, she moved to the metropolis at the delta of the Yangtze River six years ago.

In China, Christmas, she says, is seen as a Western event, comparable to Halloween. “Shanghai is a great city. It’s very interesting and unusual and is home to a great deal of cultural diversity. Christmas is well known and is widely celebrated here.”

Usually, there are lots of big parties in the city at Christmas. Restaurants offer special Christmas menus and put on events. “The city is decorated festively, people dress up and go out to celebrate,” says the 31-year-old. Different from other years, everybody wore a mask at Christmas time in 2020.


COVID-19 thwarted a family Christmas

To see her parents in Taiwan, Judy has to fly some 800 kilometers, which she usually does once a month. “Unfortunately, this year it has not been possible because of COVID-19,” she says. “We haven’t been allowed to fly, so since March we have only been able to talk on the phone.”


Restrictions on traveling and gathering to end with the Chinese New Year

In 2021, the Chinese New Year falls on February 12. The day is calculated using the Chinese lunar calendar. “For us Chinese, New Year is the biggest holiday of the year and a traditional family celebration,” explains Judy. Finally, she can see her parents again. “I am really looking forward to that,” she says.
Red Lights

Red stands for happiness. Make sure to wear something red when you celebrate New Year´s Eve in China.

An important intergenerational get-together

New Year is one of the rare occasions that Judy gets to see her grandparents and cousins. The family enjoys a big dinner together, after which they play games such as Mahjong. “We have lots of fun even when we’re setting up. It’s quite the hullabaloo and we make a lot of noise setting up the Mahjong tiles. Whoever wins most has to invite the family to their home for the next dinner”.

“Traditionally, everyone wears something new and red on New Year’s Eve. This can be a dress or just socks, the main thing is that it is new and red because red signifies happiness”.

Judy Liao,
LANXESS Shanghai

Praying for protection and happiness

Before midnight it is customary to pray to your ancestors and ask them to protect your family in the new year. At midnight, every family sets off fireworks. “On New Year’s Day, our family goes to the grave of Grandpa’s grandfather to pray and say hello,” Judy says. Her special wish for the future: “I think after 2020, health and happiness are simple but important wishes for family, friends, and colleagues.”

Party food depends on the climate

New Year is celebrated the same way throughout China, but some regional differences do exist when it comes to food and games. In northern China, for example, it is much colder. That’s why people there tend to eat one-pot dishes and drink hot liqueurs. “They also play poker rather than Mahjong,” Judy remarks with a wink.

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