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Finally, Christmas is here, but unlike every former year I’d celebrated the birth of a child – who actually was born in summer, but the 24th of December had already been a paganic holiday for centuries, so we celebrate here – I am not in lovely Austria, but in Taiwan. Due to the fact that the majority of people here are either Buddhists, Taoists or Confucian I assumed that Christmas is not celebrated at all.
I was wrong!
Sure, there are some cultural differences and customs and yeah, that is the topic of this article – basically. So hop on the contemplation train and let’s go!
The first huge difference in the climate and weather. Tainan is on the edge to sub-tropical climate, meaning that the temperature is cozy at 25°Celsius. Looking back at Austrian weather anomalies, it is not that different, but usual it is way colder in the heart of Europe.
With the warmth of Far East, the probability of White Christmas is at a significant level of 0,0000000000000001%. That is not much. So don’t try your luck with Hartlauer’s receipt weather lottery when you are here in Taiwan, because here is no Hartlauer at all.
As nearly everywhere, the traditional Christ-child (“Christkind”) has been replaced by the Santa Claus. The Xmas idol, which look had been created by Coca Cola, sliding with his dear deer pulled sleigh through the night, is omnipresent in Christmas images. So instead of girls dressed up as angels you can see voluminous old men sweating in their costumes.
Due to my allegiance to good old baby-Jesus in form of flying putti I do not provide photo footage of Santa. (Maybe I just forgot to take pictures)
Not a difference but similarity is the Christmas decoration. You can spot Christmas trees, lights, stars and so on everywhere! The following pictures give just a small glimpse of the holiday kitsch.
Starting with the decoration in and in front of my dorm.
On the streets it is Christmas, in the sheets it is like summer – because it is so hot.
The Taipei Main Station and its tree.
Hong Kong is in shopaholic contemplation.
When there is no natural snow in Macau, Christmas lights have to work as substitute.
Shops are full of fancy glitter stuff
In Taiwanese households Christmas will be celebrated with the family. The tradition of exchanging presents is present. In our exchange student group, we launched a Secret Santa game with the exchanging process on the 24th of December. We will celebrate as a family – which we are – while having dinner and spend quality time together during holiday, starting with a party.
Although Christmas abroad is nice, there are some typical Austrian customs that I miss:
- Lighting an Advent wreath
- Eating brats – the sausages, not annoying kids – with sauerkraut at Advent markets
- Eating bread with raclette cheese at Advent markets
- Eating Bauernkrapfen with jam (“Farmer crullers??” – I have no idea) at Advent markets
- Drinking punch, negus and hot wine at Advent markets
- Apparently Advent markets at all
- Eating the best Czech potato salad at Strakova’s
Besides all my eating and drinking issues, Christmas is and will be a wonderful experience here in Taiwan. To all of you with whom I cannot be in person, I wish you a merry Christmas, frohe Weihnachten and Shèngdàn kuaìlè. You are in my heart ❤
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