In Shanghai’s dim, dark past — say, about five years ago — Christmas was celebrated quietly. After all, it’s not really a Chinese holiday. There were very few signs of Christmas on the streets, and you had to know where to get the trimmings for your own celebration. For example, I learned from an American friend that decorations were sold on the second floor of the flower market, a building that had begun life as a dog racetrack in the 1920s. When my son said that he’d like to have a tree, I suggested that he drag the potted orange tree inside from the balcony. (Ok, I was a little grouchy.)
All that has changed now. The flower market was torn down a couple of years ago. Shanghai has embraced Christmas and there are lights and Christmas trees and poinsettias everywhere.
In fact, Christmas decorations are sometimes put up after Christmas day and mingle with red lanterns, as the festivities ellide with the Chinese New Year celebration, which begins this year on the night of January 24. This makes for a very pleasant atmosphere through winter’s darkest days and nights.
But sometimes the decorations are a little off. These pandas don’t quite reflect the Christmas spirit, after all.
And here’s another sign, ubiquitous in the commercial and shopping district of Xujiahui, that missed the mark and made us laugh.
Still, perhaps only in China can the message be conveyed in pearls.
As I write, darkness has fallen on 2008 and there are — of course — fireworks in the distance. To all of you I send my very best wishes for a bling bling 2009!