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Westerners in China celebrate Christmas with an Oriental twist
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Far from the cold snap and heavy snowfalls that have swept Europe, many westerners are enjoying an Eastern-flavored Christmas in China.

"Thank goodness we arrived in Shanghai before the snowstorms caused travel chaos in Europe," said Eileen, who has come from Germany with her two children to reunite with her husband working in Shanghai as an engineer.

Amazed by Chinese cuisine, Eileen could not wait to provide her family and Chinese friends with Christmas feast with both Chinese and Western flavors.

Roast turkey with eight rice delicacies; spaghetti and hotpot; apple pie and steamed stuffed bun; red wine with green tea: Eileen and her husband Thomas Karcher were creative in designing their Christmas menu.

For the Karcher family and many foreigners in China, China was present even when they celebrated the festival in their own countries: The bells on the Christmas tree and the toys in the stockings were not gifts from Santa Claus - they were made in China.

"This country brings us a pleasant surprise every day. We found Christmas cards decorated with red lanterns. What creative thinking!" said Nelson, a New Zealander who found the hand-made Christmas card in Wangfujing, a Beijing business hub.

In Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi'an and even second-tier Chinese cities, Christmas is an important celebration for urbanites. Along with New Year's Day and the Chinese Lunar New Year, Christmas is a great joy for both Chinese and foreigners.

"In China, the Christmas trees are colorful, not like the pure white ones topped with a red star there is in my country. Moreover, you find that the red 'Santa' dolls in China are both male and female, young and old," said Alessia, a 26-year-old Belorussian woman studying at Fudan University in Shanghai.

The snowstorms forced Alessia to abandon her plan to spend Christmas with her family. "Anyway, I have the chance to enjoy a Chinese-flavored Christmas," she said.

Fifty red-wagon-decorated mail cars with "Santa Claus" are shuttling their express Christmas deliveries in Nanjing in east China' s Jiangsu Province. The city post office has a special mail service for both foreigners and citizens to bring both presents and joy.

Along with the Christmas red-wagon, two students from Britain visited the Nanjing Red Flower Kindergarten. The kindergarten's kids are mainly the children of rural migrant workers.

In a cramped yard, Edwin Drake dressed up as Santa while his friend, Kevin Smith, donned a Tang suit, a traditional Chinese garment. They brought presents and Christmas tales for the kids.

"Christmas is a holiday of love and happiness for all, no matter rich or poor," said Edwin.

Anyone who walks in the business districts and shopping centers in most Chinese cities today can enjoy the pleasant contrast of the red glow of Chinese lanterns and the deep green of Christmas trees. The two colors are a perfect match for the Chinese.

"Chinese are festival fans," Alessia said. "They enjoy Christmas with Oriental wisdom and creativity."

(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2010)

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