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Christmas part of life for Chinese people
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Intime Lotte is a big shopping mall in Wangfujing Street, and one of the most famous shopping centers in Beijing. At this time of year, a huge Christmas tree has been put in front of the plaza, and clerks in Santa Claus hats greet customers at the entrance.

Gao Sheng, a management staff member, reveals the boost in sales from Christmas.

"Young people identify with Christmas culture. You know, Christmas, New Year's Day and the Spring Festival are the three peak seasons for sales. And young people are the main force that drives Christmas sales. They usually buy clothes or jewelry as Christmas gifts."

Chen Lin, from Guangdong, has just bought a Christmas gift for his girlfriend.

"We've been exchanging Christmas gifts since we first knew each other. Now, it's a tradition for us. It's not about the actual value of the gift, but the expression of love. Receiving a gift on Christmas day is romantic, and will win any girl's heart."

Christmas gifts are important. But for some people, deciding how to spend the day is even more important. This Christmas, Beijing has provided a rich choice of cultural activities for its residents. There is the Christmas concert of world music masterpieces from the Berliner Philharmoniker, or a show by pop stars called "Emotion - Beijing Christmas Night". Party animals go to Christmas parties in the bars.

Wang Ying runs a bar named 'Club Zoom' in the Shichahai(什刹海) area. She says they originally only arranged one party for Christmas Eve. Tickets sold out instantly and they had to throw an extra one the following day.

"The Christmas party is important in our annual plan. The theme of our party this year is Nordic music. Our tickets sold out very quickly. People really like the idea!"

Chen Zinan is the owner of a western food restaurant called 'Chef of the Autumn'. She says Christmas is a time for family reunions. And her restaurant has been exclusively serving customers who come with their families on Christmas, for the past 5 years.

"Foreigners were the majority of my customers in the beginning. But more and more domestic customers now come. This is because my Christmas dinners provide a good opportunity for families to spend some quality time together."

Thirty-something Zhang Yuan and his family are regular diners here.

"Christmas dinner is important. My kid asks me to take him to a nice western restaurant several weeks before Christmas."

(CRI December 26, 2008)

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