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Glitzy Christmas trappings lure many young people
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Christmas has become the biggest, most extravagant and commercial holiday season in China. Christmas trees, stars, Santa and his reindeer, snowmen, fancy shop windows, tinsel and goodies seem to be everywhere in the city.

That's the showy side: Many Chinese Christians also go to church (many also stay away because it's so crowded), joined by quite a few non-religious Chinese who enjoy the hymns, rituals, serenity and glad tidings in a window on Western culture.

Many Chinese Christians do buy Christmas tree, but in general the observances are more subdued than those in the West. Many go out for dinner instead of cooking at home, and some just order take-out or turkey pizza.

Many Chinese people, especially youth, love the holiday even if they are not Christians. For them, Christmas means a pleasant season with friends, gifts, parties, and shopping discounts. Yuletide has the outward excitement and packaging that traditional Chinese holidays seem to lack, at least for young people who like glitz, glitter, pop and something new.

Chinese traditionalists, of course, and quite a few academics and students annually deplore the inroads made by Western holidays into the calmer, family-oriented rituals of many Chinese holidays.

"Christmas is just so different - it's not those old holidays you grew up with," says Joyce Jin, a 28-year-old account manager. "I've had more than 20 Spring Festivals and Mid-Autumn Festivals, but I've only had like five Christmases.

"Maybe I'll get tired of it later, but right now, I'm still addicted. It's like a warm-up or rehearsal for New Year's Eve."

Jin is particularly excited about Christmas because she doesn't get Christmas Day off, "which makes Christmas Eve even more precious."

At traditional Chinese holidays like Mid-Autumn Festival and Spring Festival, young people like Jin are expected to spend time with their families. And many don't want even more family togetherness after doing the same thing since they were born - and spending a lot of time year-round with family.

Christmas cookies and goodies seem more appealing than Spring Festival dumplings and traditional Mid-Autumn Festival mooncakes stamped with the red Chinese character fu (happiness).

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