There’s not much Christmas traditions here in China. Restaurants leave up Christmas trees and decorations all year long, and it’s not strange to hear a Christmas song any time of the year in rotation with Justin Beiber and that annoying Titanic song.
But there is one major Christmas tradition in China that is wholly Chinese, and actually a tradition. Like, Chinese people do it to Chinese people. That tradition? Giving an apple to a friend on Christmas eve.
You see in Chinese the pronunciation of the word apple, ping guo (苹果)is similar to the word for Christmas eve ping an ye (平安夜). I know what your thinking, cause I thought it too; ping guo and ping an don’t exactly sound the same (and I got my chinese friend to admit it too) but its a cute tradition so try not to get too technical about it.
And it’s not just giving a granny smooth out to your friend. There are cute little boxes, special wrappers and a ton of different kinds of apples including some ginormous beasts of apples. All the stores are carrying apples and special boxes and wrappers right now, even the little hole-in-the-wall places. Or, if a real apple is too boring, then you can get a sparkly plastic apple too.
And the funny thing is despite it being a tradition based on the Chinese word, most Chinese people think it is a western tradition! I always surprise Chinese people when I tell them we don’t do it in America.
So happy apple day everyone! Err, I mean, Happy Christmas Eve.
(As I was writing this blog entry I get a phone call from a student asking me to meet them outside my apartment. She had a little box with an apple in. Talk about timing!)