Festivals in any culture, with the music, colours, traditions and festival food are a wonderful way of bringing families together, keeping communities united and maintaining one’s sense of identity.
It’s great to see some Christmas decorations up already and excitement building in South Australia as Christmas 2018 approaches.
Celebrating Christmas in Hong Kong multiple times over a couple of decades was such fun even though in the early 90’s, the challenge of finding festival supplies our family saw as essential items,like fruit mince pies or bon-bons was monumental. It’s different now.
On the lookout for atmosphere and unique experiences
Hàahng gai’ (hung guy) is a term in Cantonese which makes you prick your ears up and conjure up images of strolling among crowds of people. You think of atmosphere, an upbeat mood and gorgeous sights and lights. At Christmas time ‘hàahng gai’ is all about browsing in shops and seeking the ultimate festival atmosphere.
Our Chinese visitors whether from Mainland China or Hong Kong SAR, are on the lookout not only for places with atmosphere but are extra keen to stay out longer into the evening. They are accustomed to shops being open each day until at l0:00 pm
Christmas songs and carols are a favourite in Hong Kong at Christmas time and I often heard ‘Joy to the World’ many times over in a day as Christmas carols pulsated out of malls, shops andrestaurants.
Our family once spent Christmas in a hotel in Guangzhou, China. We took our own Christmas music with us thinking it just wouldn’t be the same without those familiar carols and ‘rocking around the Christmas tree’ that we played ad-nauseum as Christmas day approached. We were pleasantly surprised that we needn’t have worried. Familiar carols and traditional Christmas songs were piped through the hotel and into our rooms.
Our Chinese visitors are seeking interactive experiences, something new and novel. Just the thought that it’s warm and Father Christmas might be found at the beach serving ice-cream, the vineyards and scenic views from your amazing establishment may be twinkling with Christmas lights and home to your Christmas drinks event or the 3 wise men on their context-appropriate animals are posing with passers-by, can have amazing appeal to your Chinese guests. And once again, it provides that photo op that is going to be out on social media advertising your wonderful business to a massive Chinese network in a flash.
Balancing obligations and fun
Christmas for our Chinese friends is also the perfect segue into Chinese New Year and for the Chinese community Christmas adds another layer of meaning to the festive season.
In Hong Kong and China, the red, gold, glitter, tinsel and magic of Christmas decorations change seamlessly into red and gold decorations of good luck, prosperity and happiness for the beginning oflunar new year.
For many Chinese, Christmas has a special place in the calendar for a variety of reasons. Some tell me that it’s just such a meaningful fun festival without obligations and expenditure on red packet ‘lì shì’ (lee sh) in Mandarin, lucky money, given to unmarried people. As much as traditional Chinese festivals are looked forward to and cherished, Christmas has an appeal that can’t be overlooked.
Our Chinese visitors have come a long way to experience a Western style Christmas, maybe for the first time, so turn on the atmosphere, go all out with decorations, crank up the music and create an unforgettable Australian Christmas experience for them.
Guest writer:Pamela Murphy is a CQ (Cultural Intelligence) Certified Advanced Professional