How My Chinese Family Celebrates Christmas Over The Years

Come December, many of us around the world celebrate Christmas, or at the very least acknowledge this festive occasion one way or another. This includes my Chinese-Malaysian family for as long as I can remember.

No one in my immediate Asian family goes to church or follows the faith Christianity. We’ve never put up a Christmas tree at home. Never went caroling. But when I was a kid growing up in Australia, my parents wrapped presents for me and my brother in the lead up to Christmas day. They did pretty much the same when we later lived in Malaysia and Singapore – among other things too around this time of the year.

December. A time to unwind.

December. A time to unwind Weekly Photo Challenge: Relax.

Not all of us commemorate the history behind Christmas or the birth of Jesus Christ but still get into the spirit of this season. Different cultures around the world have different ways of celebrating or spending it, or even similar ways of celebrating.

In quite a few Asian cities, when December rolls around it’s time to have fun and essentially be a part of the commercial side surrounding Christmas. In Japan, Vietnam and Thailand where Buddhism is widely followed, Christmas day is not an official holiday but this is not an excuse to not let loose or deck out places with festive décor. A study by the China Social Survey Institute noted some Chinese see Christmas as an ‘excuse to party’ and felt many Chinese festivals are comparatively ‘solemn, serious and spiritual’. And so Christmas is a chance for some stereotypically workaholic Asians to take a breather from routines all too familiar.

Although Christmas Day is a public holiday in Malaysia, it’s full-swing business as usual for most shops in this country. No secret many Malaysians like shopping, any day. On Christmas days back then, dad woke me and my brother up before 9am and then drove us to one of the big shopping malls downtown – all in a bid to get a parking space. After we parked, for the next six hours both he and my mum dragged me and my brother from store to store to check out year-end sales, no matter how much me and my brother wailed together, “How boring!”. But the folks never failed to treat us to McDonalds midway, which really was just a smidge of consolation…

Christmas time in Asia is a time to indulge in good food, a time to have big banquets and honour the idea of family. Togetherness is a virtue in Chinese cultures: there’s the sense of filial piety coming home and being a family unit once again after a year where we’ve all been places. As a teenager, each Christmas in Malaysia was a Christmas where my family attended at least one big family dinner with the extended relatives. During the years my family lived in Singapore, dad drove us – five, six hour drives – back to Kuala Lumpur, the heart of Malaysia where most of our family are, for these dinners.

December. It's a time to look up. Reflect on what has been and what may be. Reach up.

December. It’s a time to look up. Reflect on what has been and what may be. Reach up.

For many of these dinners, my big Chinese family was privileged to have our own private dining rooms, rooms booked months in advance. Even then we could still hear other restaurant patrons outside shouting yum seng over and over, toasting to the end of the year.

During Christmas time, festive lights streak along the streets in Asia, turning these streets into fairytale wonderlands, sometimes looking downright kawaii. As fellow blogger Constance from Foreign Sanctuary shared, there are rows and rows of colourful lights in Taiwan for the occasion. Lina from My Hong Kong Husband shows us how Victoria Harbour in Hong Kong lights up with LED lights around alongside Pokémon and My Melody Christmas decorations. In Singapore, the famous city shopping strip Orchard Road lights up for kilometres for the with a different theme each year. In the weeks before driving back to Malaysia for the family banquets, my parents took me and my brother to see these light shows along Orchard Road. There were always packed crowds, humidity hit me head on and my parents would erratically point in front trying to get me to get me to see the lights on show over heads much taller than me

Another memory of Christmas in Malaysia were the instances when my parents took teenage me to the shopping malls to see even more Christmas decorations. As CL over at Real Gunners said, Malaysian malls would be dolled up like winter wonderlands or European winter villages. At some point ‘Santa Claus’ would make appearances at the mall and my parents would bring me up to him to take photos. Interestingly enough, I noticed it was always a white man with blue/green eyes-fair-skin behind the Santa Claus outfit – the novelty of this never seems to wear off in Asia. Asian Santa Clauses’ were not something I remembered from my childhood, and it baffled me.

December. It's a time to reach deep, give, think deep.

December. It’s a time to reach deep, give, think deep.

Some might argue that Christmas is a rather exclusive Western person’s festive occasion as it’s celebrated predominantly in the Western world. But the spirit of Christmas has always been about giving, being thankful for what and who we have – not where we’re from and what we do. A study in the U.S found around three quarters of Asian-Americans Buddhists and Hindus celebrate Christmas, joining in Christmas merrymaking. Anyone can be a part of Christmas if their heart desires, just as we can make anything happen if really we want something and be a part of something and go for it.

The commercialisation of Christmas can be hard to run away from. It may not make us a better person. It can bring out the worst in us. It can make us go around in circles when it comes to finding what we truly want. Along Orchard Road during Christmas time in Singapore, as people flitted around me with shopping bags in hand, strolling, gazing up at twinkling lights, my feet ached from meandering the crowds. I wondered how much of Christmas shopping and lights and boisterous celebrations we’d actually care about years from now.

Since my Chinese-Malaysian family moved to Melbourne, Christmas has been much more low-key. The day is a public holiday in Australia with practically all the shops shut, and I usually spend it at my parent’s place for a BBQ or we have meal in Chinatown. In my first year back in Melbourne, we also went to see the Christmas decorations in the city and the festive decor was pretty eye-catching. The next year not so eye-catching because it was the same decorations. And the year after. And even this year (I’ve stopped going to see these decorations). Predictable.

Truth be told, there’s no escaping predictably when it comes to Christmas, and any festive occasion that comes round. For some of us, that gives us something to look forward to, something that speaks to us: with Christmas, we come to yearn the thought behind putting together shiny wonderland lights, the meals together, the giving.

However, not everyone likes Christmas and holiday seasons for exactly these reasons. Not everyone likes every holiday occasion no matter how much the occasion encourages us to be thankful for what and whom we have. It could be because of the commerciality. The need to put on a show. The rush and desperation to give. The togetherness wears us down in one way or another. Or personally personal reasons and beliefs.

December. It's a time for wishing. Where we feel that magic, anything, can happen.

December. It’s a time for wishing. Where we feel that magic, anything, can happen.

Come December in Australia it’s summer, and it’s winter in the middle of the year here. Each winter in Australia there is something called ‘Christmas in July‘ or also known as the Yuletide, where there are Christmas themed events around Australia during this chilly time of the year for us. It’s technically not another official Christmas…but really is another day, another rather random moment for some of us to count our blessings.

It’s always the thought that counts, real Christmas time or not, all day, every day. As Autumn Asborough from West Dates East recounted on treating others, ‘we have to look out for each other’. And then we’ll all be okay.

Keep it simple. Keep it together.

How does your country/culture celebrate Christmas? (This is my last post until some time next year. Until then, wishing you well   🙂 )


272 thoughts on “How My Chinese Family Celebrates Christmas Over The Years

  1. Great post Mabel. Even here in India, except for few states where there is significant Christian population for the rest of country it’s a commercial festival. Restaurants and businesses find a reason to sell and create excitement. So the young generation finds reason to enjoy the Christmas parties even though there is no real connect. You summed it well that it’s difficult to stay away from commercial aspect

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  2. My strongest childhood memories of Christmas are my maternal grandmother cooking up to 15 chooks and when they were finished in the oven she would pluck off the cloacas and give them all to me. These fatty crispy skinned nuggets of joy are my fondest memory.

    During my work life, I’ve enjoyed a few Christmas days working in hospitals. It’s not so bad. Usually, there aren’t as many patients and the doctors and nurses are all in a pretty good mood. I remember one night shift on Christmas and spending time with some playful nurses.

    Christmas in July is just wrong. I see no point. That said, I do remember one really good one in Darwin which we combined with a hospital review. There was a lot of fun and frivolity.

    This Christmas I’ll spend by myself and I aim to enjoy something nice to eat and watch Christmas movies on Netflix 😃

    I hope Mabel Christmas 2016 is a special one for you.

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  3. I loved this post and your Christmas pictures Mabel! I especially love your quote at the end – Keep it Simple, Keep it Together 🙂 I see Christmas as a time for family to get together and spend quality time so I agree with that sentiment. As a European family, we celebrate Christmas Eve rather than Christmas Day and every year is themed so we are dressing up in Xmas Pyjamas. I really like how Melbourne celebrates Christmas – the Myer Windows, the Gingerbread near the Town Hall and the Christmas Village near Fed Square. I hope you have the best Christmas!! xx


    • That is fascinating to hear that you celebrate Christmas Eve instead of Christmas day. It is actually the first I’ve heard of it. I can just imagine how cute you look in your PJs 🙂 Nothing like spending time with the ones you love and who mean the world to you and being just you. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and big hugs xoxo

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  4. I recently traveled from Taiwan, and they had the most amazing Christmas trees and decorations around the city. Most apartment buildings also have a Christmas tree on the main floors. It’s interesting because generally the decorations and products sold during that time are for commercial purposes. I grew up going to church since I was a baby, and we celebrated Christmas every year in New Zealand, so it’s always interesting to travel back to Taiwan and feel that even though it is not traditionally celebrated as much, there is still that feeling of Christmas.

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    • Hope you had a great trip to Taiwan, and it sounds like you did. It is always such dazzling Christmas displays that Asian cities put on. Though quite a bit of money must be spent, all in all it draws out people to gather and hang out to see the lights together…and sometimes these are priceless moments. Have a good Christmas in Australia this year.


  5. I’ve got so many memories of Christmas. Being raised Catholic, Christmas was more fun than Easter. 🙂 That’s why, I liked it more. Over the past few years, I’ve turned agnostic, so Christmas for me is nostalgia. Our families still celebrate by going to church and cooking meals and decorating our homes. I’ve been on the fringe lines. I contemplated buying Christmas decorations, this year, and then decided against. Our apartment is too small anyway. I think, in Seoul, the decorations are up and glittering. Korea has got a staggering number of christians. I do like the festivity and cheer of the season. 🙂 Time to be positive and be hopeful.


    • “Christmas for me is nostalgia.” I think you summed up Christmas for many of us. A lot of the Christmases we had as kids seem to never leave us as memories. As we grow older, the more practical we become and perhaps simpler in mindset too – like how you feel it is best not to buy Christmas decorations this year. My apartment is too small for decorations too, lol.

      Enjoy the sparkly and twinkly lights this year in Korea. I am sure Basil will be eager to workout his camera 🙂

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  6. Very interesting, Mabel. This will show my age, I know… most people in Taiwan didn’t celebrate Christmas when I grew up. Only inside of churches had decorations and they also offered Christmas program. But most people weren’t Christian so not many knew about Christmas. When I was 6 grade, one classmate invited me to her Christmas program – that was the only time I experienced Christmas Celebration before coming to U.S.

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    • Some parts of the world Christmas certainly isn’t a big deal. But it sounds like you were curious about it as a kid, and your classmate sound so friendly to invite you to her Christmas festivities. It must have been very different to how you celebrated in the States, but hope it was a very enjoyable one.


  7. Ha, even my atheist family goes crazy over Christmas. Of course, the parts we love are all the pagan celebrations — evergreen trees, mistletoe, lights, caroling, egg nog, and tons of baked goods. My favorite was a sleigh ride in New Hampshire behind enormous Belgian draft horses.

    In Los Angeles, there are plenty of neighborhoods that go all out with the lights. Some are just bright and tacky, but one neighborhood puts fairy lights in all the trees. It’s incredible (as is the traffic). I don’t have your camera, but I will try to get some pictures this year.

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    • Baked goods! Yes! And you do a mean baked good…I think. If you ever need a taste tester I am all up for it.

      Sleigh rides. I completely forgot about them. Now that you mentioned it, I went tobanning in autumn leaves a lot as a kid.

      Here in Australia, some houses and neighbourhoods outdo each other each year when they decorate their houses with lights – they all want to end up on the news. I am sure your images will be great. My Christmas photos aren’t that fancy anyway (struggletown to find inspiration…)

      Liked by 1 person

  8. hah, what a giant present wrapped in a red ribbon is the Melbourne townhall 🙂
    I think Christmas traditions are similar all over the world: family, food, lights, shopping … with the latter brought to extremes lol 🙂

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    • Ah, you know the Melbourne Townhall. You are very clever, Alex 🙂 I hope you have a good end to the year, and that your boys have a good Christmas too. Missed you so much and hope to chat soon x


      • I’m smart just enough so I hover my mouse over your wonderful photos and their names come up 😀 you are so sweet, Mabel, you might want to check your subscription settings to my blog tho, cuz I lost the domain for a while some months back and everyone had to re-subscribe… it’s possible you dont see me in your reader… (that is if you want to see me in your reader, lol 🙂 xoxo


        • Lol. You really are smart, Alex 😀 Oh no, I am so sorry about your blog domain 😦 Now I have followed you again and I am so looking forward to catching up with you and seeing your wonderful photos. Wishing you wonderful wishes for the year end and for next year too. Very happy to call you my blog friend and friend x


  9. Oh Mabel, how lovely to read this post! It takes me back to all the Christmases spent in Malaysia. They do know how to decorate that’s for sure. That’s something I miss, we do have decorations and lights but in Finnish style it’s more low key. Just the thought of entering an air-conditioned hotel and thinking of seeing the Christmas deco in the lobby takes me back. Shangri-La used to (maybe still has?) have a shop that sold ham, that’s where you’d find us before Xmas. In Finland it’s all about family (and traditional Finnish Xmas food), people withdraw to their homes and Helsinki seems like an abandoned city.

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    • “They do know how to decorate that’s for sure.” That is so true of Malaysia around Christmas time. And each year the decorated Christmas trees look very much different from the year before. It is amazing.

      I love a good ham, especially if it is glazed with honey, and I hope this Christmas you will find some delicious ham. Empty streets, full and cozy homes in Finalnd. Not a bad thing.

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  11. This is So interesting, Mabel. And So Hawaiian! It reminds me of the blend of Asian and Polynesian cultures, both which value family togetherness as well as, yes, any excuse to party! Locals here Love a feast, a good laugh, good company and music. The excuse to party is less important, though the Christian influence on the islands is palpable, so Jesus Is the reason for this particular seasonal celebration. Enjoy your holiday festivities, however and for whatever reason. I have a feeling you will do that very thing ☺️ Aloha.

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    • Each time I read a comment from you, I want to visit your home of Hawaii (somehow each time the mention of the name makes me think of Hawaiian pizza). Diverse poeple, and from the sounds of it, cozy kinds of celebrations with each other. What is not to like to like about that 🙂

      I hope you enjoy your year-end season, Bela. It will be a quiet one for me and I will probably spend the whole day in bed – which will be a treat for me 😀

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      • Hey, each year and each holiday brings its own ‘energy.’ I’ve spent times in bliss, some in tears, usually in deep gratitude (the optimal at such times, I think), but always, always in learning.

        Funny you think of Hawaiian pizza! It’s such a rare thing, not at all advertised or promoted here, though a local cafe/pizzeria does offer pineapple as a topping, among many other ingredients. More like the loco moco, Spam musubi, fish, island raised beef and loads of fresh fruits and veggies, year-round. Then there’s the Filipino food, Mexican food (somewhat recent), Thai, Portugese (sausage, malasadas), Puerto Rican (our neighbor just handed my husband a package of 4 of her extremely popular, four times-a-year family-made hot pasteles yesterday, which he promptly shared with some lucky workmen he encountered), Chinese (you can get only Very limited dimsum at certain resorts), Japanese – I might have forgotten some – but there is ever the fancy resort restaurant chef who creates his/her own unique blend of Polynesian and Asian fusion foods.

        Enjoy your rest, Mabel! ❤


        • Thank you so much for clarifying about Hawaiian pizza. For the longest time I wondered if it is a pizza that originated from Hawaii. Lol. Spam musubi sounds delicious. I have yet to try it, and I won’t be surprised if it is a popular festive meal like how popular the pasteles that you just received 🙂

          Such a variety of cuisine there in Hawaii. Not just variety, but unique too. Hope they all do well during the festive season ahead, cooking for everyone with lost of heart ❤

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  12. When I was a kid in Spain, Christmas meant having dinner at my grandparents’ on Christmas Eve and then lunch on Christmas. So. much. food. After my grandparents died we just celebrated at home and it was not the same any more.

    I don’t celebrate Christmas in China and I don’t really miss it. I just don’t get the proper feeling, as we don’t have holidays. But here many young people celebrate it, more like a couple’s date. On Christmas Eve all the fancy restaurants are fully booked.

    BTW, in Spain the presents for the kids are traditionally given out on January 6, the “Three Wise Kings” day.

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    • Festivals and celebrations are somehow never the same when we grow older, and we have to deal with it as best as we can and move on.

      Food. That is a universal must-have when it comes to occasions like these. Some may argue never too much food as you can keep it in the fridge for next time.


  13. So many cultures celebrate Christmas in so many different ways. Your insights make me wonder sometimes.

    For us, being a Hindu, it is a non-event…primarily! But we look forward to year-end Holidays. It’s a time of family get-together and break from the monotony of work.

    Do enjoy your holidays and have a Happy 2017, Mabel. I will read you in the New Year then 😊

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  14. You are right that it’s always the thought that counts. Christmas is truly about giving. As a child, I studied in a Christian school and we had long winter vacations but on 25th, the principal would share cakes with teachers, students and children all around the city. Everyone was welcome. We used to wait for Christmas cos it meant cakes and love from elders. I’m a Hindu and though we don’t celebrate the festival, most Hindus like me are open to accepting the good things of all festivals including Christmas. At work we indulge in secret Santa gift exchanges and this year, I’m planing to keep a small tree. Not really a tree. I’ve a borrowed idea that I would share later 🙂
    When I visited HK last year, the city amazed me with all the decorations and beauty. Yes, Victoria harbor was gorgeous. I’ve many posts on my blog. Oh I miss HK 😦
    Wish you a joyous season and let me say that I’m thankful to have you around as a lovely reader. You inspire and encourage me to be better 🙂

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    • It was so generous of the principal and elders to share cakes all round. Who doesn’t like cake 🙂 I hope you enjoy Secret Santa at work this year. Maybe you might get something that you really like or if not, all of you can have a good laugh together and appreciate each other being teammates for the year.

      This year my work is also having a Secret Santa. I’ve never done it before, and wonder what will be in store for all for all of us 🙂

      I hope you get to visit Hong Kong again! It sounded like you had a wonderful time there. Wishing you a joyous season too. Your blog is always so insightful about India and how we can find inspiration in the everyday people around us 🙂

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  16. This is a lovely post! So many can relate to it and everyone has memories connected with it!
    I don’t have any though special Christmas cake was always shared! This festival was never celebrated in my home but now I am gathering some beautiful moments with my little grandchildren who love playing with the ornaments on the tree, unwrapping the presents and all that talk of Santa bringing whatever they wish for!
    I love your message Mabel,.. ‘Keep it simple, keep it together’…only togetherness makes the festivities fun. Commercialisation is consumer created and we can keep ourselves away from it, if we want to.
    Wishing you and all my friends a Merry Christmas. 🙂


    • Christmas cake! Cake is always delicious and I hope the cake you had back then tasted exactly that. Your grandchildren sound very cute opening presents under the tree, and I hope this year each of them get something they like 🙂

      Simple is when we are relaxed, when we are at home, having good company and good conversation. Thank you so much, Balroop. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and best wishes for the end of year and next year, my friend 🙂

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  17. Whether it is Christmas, Diwali or Id’l Fitr, it is the spirit that counts which is the same with small variations. On a country wide basis, Christmas is not a big celebration in India as Christians constitute just under 3% of total population. However, my home state of Kerala is one of the few states in India where Christian community accounts for about 20% of the total state population of 33 million. So it is very colourful here with midnight mass in churches, Carol songs, colourful lighting and a lot of shopping and partying. As in most places, the commercial element dominates punctuated liberally by eating and drinking and hardly any Christ consciousness…

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    • “it is the spirit that count” Spot on, Raj. It sounds like very much a festive atmosphere in Kerala this time of the year. There must be a lot of lights around, an excuse to go out if you want to out.

      Midnight mass in churches – some do take the occasion seriously and good to see them coming together. There’s nothing like coming together and sharing in each other’s company and being as one people. Wishing you well for the end of year, and thank you for dropping by this year.


  18. Mabel it was interesting to read the history of your family’s celebration of Christmas. You did a great time of painting the picture of bored children in the shopping mall. I do not like the commercializations of the holiday. For those with financial challenges it can be such a time of stress. We do our best to focus on helping those less fortunate enjoy the season. Wishing you a wonderful season and have a restful break from blogging. Hugs across the miles.

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    • Haha, I really was one of those bored children at the mall. Such a great point, Sue. Sometimes we can feel the pressure to splurge on festive occasions, not necessarily on ourselves but on others. Sometimes it can even feel like a competitive – will they like my gift, are their gifts better than mine. Wishing you a good end of year. One of my highlights this year was meeting you. Hugs right back at you.

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      • Oh Mabel what a lovely thing to say! I remember our dinner and conversation with warm thoughts. So sweet of you to hang out with me that evening. I very much hope our paths will cross again in person one day. Xo


        • It was such a lovely evening with you and I do hope we can meet again another day. Stranger things have happened, and I am inclined to believe our paths will cross again. Keep traveling, and you have inspired me this year to go out and explore the world. Take care xoxo


  19. What an interesting post. When my wife left China back in 2006 there was not much going on regarding Christmas. Sure they had some decoration at the malls but nothing too special. It became more and more commercialised in the years afterwards and now also in Xi’an they have tons of decorations and small Christmas villages at certain spots. Besides that it is a big shopping day and probably also to party but then again it is a normal work day so I guess they keep it at a low profile.
    Though I am Christian and grew up with the Religious meaning of Christmas I never really cared about it. For me Christmas is everything you see in the TV except the church. Last time I went to Church on Christmas was when I was 10 years old or something like that. My parents haven’t been to Church either since then I would say.
    This year we will have again a nice Tree in the living room and other decorations. Each year we try to expand the decoration as some of the stuff can be really costly (some German handcrafted stuff I really like costs over 300Euros!!! )

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  20. I have to admit my Christmas nostalgia can come on strong sometimes, but the modern commercialization is usually stronger and plenty enough to shake me out of it. I don’t decorate, and am usually appalled to see the stores start putting out Christmas stuff just after Labor Day (1st week of September here in the US) — but if happen to be in NYC I still love to see things like Rockefeller Center or the Met Museum tree.
    I didn’t realize Christmas got celebrated in so many places. Great post and I’m sorry to hear we won’t see another until January — be well and enjoy your December !

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    • Christmas decorations up in September! And Halloween hasn’t even come and gone yet :O It sounds rather excessive. Here in Australia I’ve seen Christmas decorations go up in October, which I think is also early. Sometimes I think: if I do decorate, where would I have the space in my small apartment to keep it all away once the season is over?

      I’ll still be lurking around blog-world until my next post. Break from writing is something I need. You too enjoy your December, Sandy. Also enjoy next year.


  21. Merry Xmas and all the best for the new year, Mabel. Our family will have our traditional Christmas lunch as always and then the fun of exchanging gifts. We won’t be having Pavlova for dessert but a trifle. Last year, we were over generous and made two trifles only to have one thrown out after a week as we had forgotten about it (was stored in our spare fridge in the garage).

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    • I hope you get something that you like this year exchanging gifts 🙂 Trifle sounds good – it has spongecake and I love that. If I had visited, I would have very nicely helped to eat that whole other trifle, would not let it go to waste at all 😀

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  22. Christmas has always been my favorite holiday and still is, but I have to say, it was way more fun as a kid because of all the presents to look forward to. Now, I feel the rush and stress that come along with the holidays, but I think in the end, it’s still worth it when you see people’s big smiles as they open their gifts.

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    • You can always buy yourself a small gift or treat when Christmas time comes around 🙂 That way you can also smile and feel that you are loved. Loving ourselves is something we all have to do each and every day, and some days we deserve a lot more love for how far we’ve come, overcoming stresses and all.


  23. Very interesting post and how your family has integrated the Christmas culture with them. In my case I was brought up in a half Catholic half not family, though it was decided that my brother and I would be brought up as Catholics so obviously we do Christmas. However when I was small and living in Australia, my dad decided that as Spanish and proper Christians/Catholics, Santa Clause does not come to our place, its the Three Wise Kings that do. To make it not seem so different, the Three Wise Kings would come to leave their presents at our place at the same night as Santa would. It was only when I was abut 16 or so that I later learnt that in Spain, in reality the Three Wise Kings would come on the night of the 5th January…. But I guess my parents had to do a small mix invention to integrate the 2 cultures lol. xx

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    • That is such an interesting interpretation of Christmas you had when you were a kid! Very clever of your parents to mix the two cultures. Now, we all know that Santa Claus is not true, but it is always fun to believe in that jolly man bringing wishes to everyone around the world, and in your case the Three Wise Kings too 😉 In a way you could have been expecting two sets of its when you were younger, had you known, lol.

      I suppose it is similar with my Chinese family, and I have a feeling my parents brought me and my brother Christmas presents as a kid so we could join in the occasion in Australia just as all our other classmates did.


  24. Hi Mabel 🙂 I enjoyed reading about your Christmas family memories. It warms my heart to know that it’s not the gifts you enjoy but more the time with family. I agree! It’s the memories we hold onto, rather than a material item (except that cute monkey of yours!). I am Christian but, interestingly, I am the only one in my immediate family that talks about God, for my parents it is rarely mentioned. So, Christmas for us together is more about appreciating one another’s company. We do open presents on Christmas Day but have really cut back on what is bought versus when I was a kid. That’s good! I don’t miss all the material stuff either. ❤


    • That warm and fuzzy feeling that we feel around others we love is priceless, money can’t buy. I like how you and your family can get along no matter what each of you believe in. Material stuff we can always get at any time, and if it’s not in the shops, chances are its online. But the exception is certainly my cute monkey Mr Wobbles. He is one of a kind and he brings with him special memories and lots of love ❤

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  25. Hi Mabel, i don’t where to begin. I live on the other side of the world where it winter. Here in san antonio, tx especially within the hispanic community it the season to eat. With the cold weather people love there soups and there a variety that people eat to stay warm and enjoy during the holidays. One of the most popluar one is menudo. Another popular food that we hispanic like to make and eat during the holidays is tamales. Tamales are a big thing during the christmas holiday and are in high demand. Ask any hispanic person what they ate for the holidays one of those two will come up, menudo and tamales. As for celebrating christmas, wellnow it kind of simple and i guess ” boring” is a better word. Today everone is all grown up with their own kids and doing their own thing. As a kid we would always eat at my grandmother house on christmas seeing our cousins, aunts, uncle and other distance family members. Today we still go there to eat, not everone is there due to other family commitments. Well look forward to your next post, I guess after the new year. Take care Mabel and stay cool in the summer heat.

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    • Such a great thought that you bring up. When it’s cold, we tend to eat more and eat hearty dishes – maybe to keep warm, maybe we stay indoors and cook so we eat more, or eat to pass the time. I googled Menudo and Tamales – they look like dishes that can fill you up well.

      Sometimes I too feel that Christmas is boring because we know what to expect, and sometimes we feel like we are showing up to a meal out of obligation if we all don’t get along. Wishing you all the best for the end of year and next year, Mikey. You stay warm in your part of the world and stay safe.


  26. The commericalism of Christmas in Asia has been fascinating to watch. I saw it creep up and then surprise us expats in Thailand. But in Cambodia, especially in a town that lacks a proper shopping complex such as Siem Reap, the decorations are fairly tame. Most hotels though, do have a Christmas tree in their lobbies or outside by their signs.

    As far as family celebrations are concerned, I feel like I’ve written about this already on the blog. As an expat, feeling removed from the holidays of back home, I couldn’t help but reflect on what Christmas means to me and what we would be doing back home. That being said, I enjoyed hearing what your family did/does. I find the mix of cultures (such as our stories) endlessly interesting in their similarities and differences.

    Happy Holy Days, Mabel. xxoo

    Liked by 1 person

    • “fascinating” is a great word to describe the commercialisation of Christmas in Asia. You might want to think some places like hotel do it to appease expats, or rather to show and champion diversity of cultures. No matter how tame the decorations are, you can’t really not see them, always in-your-face.

      We do share similar and dissimilar stories, and how I wish we could meet and have a drink together. Cheers to the season and have a good and safe new year.

      Liked by 1 person

  27. I’m not particularly religious, but I do like Christmas. When my brother and I were kids, it was mostly about getting presents. (I won’t fib about it!) Nowadays, it’s more about us all having a nice meal together. Personally, I think Christmas is for anybody who wants to take part.

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  28. I don’t look forward to Christmas anymore. I want to say it’s because I’m older, a senior, but I know that isn’t true. I don’t mind watching everyone else getting into the spirit. Actually, that’s rather entertaining. I just don’t want to be a part of it anymore. I want to stay on the sidelines and just watch the “show”. Why? It’s all such a hassle anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your honesty, Glynis. I don’t think it’s because of your generation, because I too don’t mind watching everyone else getting into the spirit too. It’s always the thought that counts, and we can show each other we care every day through the simple things that we do as opposed to hunting high and low searching for the “perfect” gift.


  29. It’ll be a quiet and rather strange Christmas for us this year, Mabel. Dad was always here for Christmas lunch. I love the pretty displays in the shops but I’m not a shopper and my worst nightmare is the Boxing Day sales. 🙂 One year I had a friend staying who insisted on going to the mall. Never again! 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your Dad will be there in spirit 🙂 In my first year back in Melbourne, I went to the Boxing Day sales. Like you said, never again 😦 It took me half an hour to get out of a shopping mall and I didn’t even manage to browse any things 😂

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  30. This was such an interesting and insightful read Mabel. So cool to read about how you and your family spend the Christmas and all the details ! Even though we don’t celebrate Christmas but whenever I think about it, it gives me that warm fuzzy feeling with snow and fireplaces and family dinners and movies and Carols and all that love all around. Even though as you said you guys don’t have snow around this time of the year, I’m sure it’s still a lot of fun for everyone in the country who celebrates it. There was one thing that got me wondering, and it’s alright if you don’t wanna answer this question if you don’t feel comfortable, was that you said you/your family/ or Asians aren’t particularly Christianity followers then what is their/your religion? Is it Buddhist? Do they/you have the similar festivals as Christmas too? Just random questions, I hope you won’t mind 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wondered the same thing. Maybe Mabel wants that kept private, or maybe she does not want to offend anyone (you know how politically-correct she is). I welcome Mabel to celebrate Christmas even if she is not Christian.

      Most Malaysians are Muslim, I’m guessing that she was raised in Chinese Buddhism, with various Daoist and Confucian family practices observed. Or maybe she is just not religious, but enjoys the community and customs that go along with religion. Buddhism is actually more of a philosophy than a religion. You can practice Buddhism and still practice other religions too., that is not seen as a conflict of interest. In fact you can “hedge your bets” that way.

      Not in the same way as Islam and Hinduism. If you are an Indian, you cannot be both — they want you to PICK ONE. Also in Western thought different religions are a conflict of interest. I can remember growing up, you could not have a Catholic marry a Protestant. “The children would be confused” they would say. PICK ONE!!! Now days …who cares?

      Oh yeah, I am a Christian but only nominally. I like saying Merry Christmas. A lot of my Jewish friends also like Christmas. Nothing wrong with that. I’m a failed Christian though … I drink and I swear, I don’t turn the other cheek, and I think a lot of dirty thoughts. … um … er .. but I digress … I think that Christian mythology is actually pretty groovy, you just can’t take it literally. I hope Mabel can appreciate the religion even if she is not a joiner.

      Merry Christmas!

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      • I responded to Zee, and I am not religious and call myself a free-thinker. When I was younger, my parents did take me to Chinese temples for prayers (around the Chinese New Year), but it was not something I truly believed in.

        “enjoys the community and customs that go along with religion.” Agreed with you about this on minds of thought of life and Christmas. Though I’m not a joiner, it can be nice to participate in – and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Zee. I am sure you can get in to the spirit of Christmas yourself. Maybe make yourself a cup of hot chocolate or bake some cookies. Yes, many Australians do enjoy Christmas even without the snow. Christmas BBQs are popular, and so is looking at the Christmas display windows in the city – there are always long queues for it.

      No, I don’t mind your question, Zee. My parents aren’t entirely religious, but they claim the closest religion they align to is Buddhism. Chinese New Year and Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival the really the festivals my family celebrate. Personally, I don’t follow are religion and consider myself a free thinker 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for feeling comfortable enough to answer my question Mabel. It’s always such an honour when anyone chooses to share a part of their personal life/ believed with others. Christmas displays are one of the best parts that really mesmerises and peaks my interest. All of it is so beautiful, almost magical ! And well since you celebrate Chinese New Year and festival much more enthusiastically, I’ll be looking forward to reading about it whenever it arrives 😉


        • Agreed. This time of the year can feel magical – people make the effort to come together and see each other out of love. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, Zee. Best wishes and wishing you a wonderful year next year 🙂


  31. I always liked watching “Christmas with the Wiggles.”
    Pool parties at Christmas? Oh, yeah .. Southern Hemisphere, different solstice.

    It is not surprising that some Australians have “Christmas in July”. If you have just had your winter solstice on June 22, then you would celebrate the return or the rebirth of the Sun (or “Birth of the Son”) shortly thereafter. In America, “Christmas in July” sales are a gimic.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is an interesting observation. I suppose “Christmas in July” Australians can drink hot chocolate comfortably and do winter activities, making it feel like what Christmas is in the States. Funny how we all reckon a true Christmas needs a cold atmosphere weather-wise.

      In Australia, the day after Christmas “Boxing Day” sales are manic. I’ve went once, and as I said to Jo, never again.

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  32. Most Chinese-Canadian families I know, treat it as a time for family get togethers and celebrate simply as being good times with loved ones.

    That’s how it is with my family. However even as a very young child growing up in Canada in a small town, we did always have an artificial Christmas tree with decorations which we enjoyed putting up. My parents never could afford a real live evergreen Christmas tree.

    Though we are not Christians, at least myself and siblings do know abit about meaning of Christmas: my parents had us attend Sunday school for a few years. They thought it was good place to learn about some morals/values. It’s not lousy thinking because it IS another value system. It’s useful to understand underlying powerful influence of Christianity on Western society historically that affected profoundly literature, art, govn’t (even in the making of Western law), etc.

    With siblings, we sang/hummed Christmas carols and played Christmas music at home for a few hrs. each day. My parents liked it because that is the spirit of Christmas to them. Parents would also buy a potted pointisetti red flower plant a month in advance and usually it lived lovely well into end of Jan. or so. As you know, red is lucky for Chinese.

    There were gifts under the tree…which become more and more, as we started to have jobs. My mother liked cooking a Christmas Eve meal for us. Christmas Eve was the special time because night time seemed so much more magical and special with Christmas lights, and snow (which probably over 70% of my life, there was some snow at Christmas) sparkling at night/falling gently. OUr big family Christmas dinner was on Christmas Eve. By that time, my father came home from work at a Chinese restaurant after we waited faithfully for my father to come home to his 6 children. (Never overstay at restaurants. Employees have families !!!!) This would be around 8-10 pm on Christmas Eve. Ask your family to rethink this restaurant meal if it’s in the evening on a special day. Have it at home. Go to the restaurant some other day.

    No, my parents never got into turkey. It was some sort of meat dishes, veggies. Mostly Chinese. I don’t remember because every year it was different and it doesn’t matter because my mother made the effort. Only as a child for a few years, we went to restaurant was Chinese restaurant employees and their families who were treated by the owners. My father was restaurant cook. That was on Christmas Day. That’s where I first developed palate for broader range of Chinese dishes in Canada. T

    We opened presents on Chrismas Eve, eat some chocolates or fruitcake. Drink eggnog. Watch Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” or Christmas Carol movie classic with Alastair Sim as Scrooge on TV. By that time it might be 1:00 am. Then we go to bed.

    I know I sound like a movie, but for those of us living in northern climates, it REALLY can be like this and I know a lot of non-European families make an effort to do the typical stuff (wreath on front door which my parents did hang for 1 months), etc. Snow does really add to the whole feel of Christmas!! So hopefully one day, you will experience this Mabel..and going to the Canadian Rocky Mountains you will. (Sue S. lives in the same city as I.)

    My Christmases with my family and how we did was /is to me, the best memories of family get-togethers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your Christmas when you were younger sounds very cozy, truly resonating the spirit of the occasion. While it is a value system, Christmas can let us feel what it means to be family and to be loved. More and more presents over the years – it sounds like your family worked hard for it and that red plant is a lovely touch of Chinese culture and symbolism.

      My parents cook a lot, practically every day and sometimes like bringing food over to my place. Restaurant meals to us is like a treat where we can relax and not worry about cooking and washing up. We usually do a lunch, though.

      Maybe one day I will see snow. It would be great to experience it once no matter how much I dislike the cold.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Now, I since no longer live in the same province/city as my birth family, I’ve only had Christmas with them once in the past 15 yrs. I spend Christmas with my partner over 3,000 km. away from my family. Our Christmas together is also quite nice.

        Wow, still bringing some food over to your place. You’ll miss one day. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good to hear you spend Christmas today with the ones you love. You live that far away but the travel is always worth it to see them. Merry Christmas, Jean, and hope this year the occasion will be a great one for you 🙂

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          • Since my partner comes from Germany and raised by a mother who loved to prepare for Christmas….he has experienced the real European Christmas annually….her baked cookies, tortes. Germany is the country that gave the Christmas tree to the rest of the world. The tree originated from there.

            His mother was also Catholic. So the family would go off to Christmas Eve mass.

            Everything except for turkey which Germans don’t have traditionally. It’s goose, chicken or ham. How we celebrate is a little bit in memory of his mother, how she did it. With him, he buys kristollen..which is German type of cake bread with dried nuts or a Yule cake log from the bakery (a German gourmet baker who is top notch in Vancouver).

            If Christmas is celebrated in love and giving of heart, …with snow :), it does give a person the strongest best memories of community.

            Liked by 1 person

            • It sounds like your partner had a very loving and cozy Christmas while growing up. I can just imagine the whole family coming together to bake goodies and big feasts where leftovers are inevitable.

              Kristollen…I’ve never heard of it and it sounds much more sophisticated and tasty than your average fruit cake (which I am not a fan of at all).


  33. Thanks for that Youtube video in the end. What a lovely lady singer… I mean, what a lovely song! 😀

    One thing I noticed this year in Malaysia is that there are a lot of new bakeries (sorry, patisseries and boulangeries) and cafes supporting these new bakeries doling out Christmas themed breads and cakes. And I’m not just talking about yule log, it could be something like pandan layer (Malaysian cake), but in red and green stripes. I still have not decided that these are awesome or ridiculous…

    Liked by 1 person

    • That pandan layer cake with stripes sounds delicious :/ But all of that just adds up to the commercial spirit this time of the year. There are also a lot of bakeries, patisseries and boulangeries, cafes and pop-ups sprouting around Melbourne, and these few weeks have been selling so many Christmas-themed sweet treats.

      Yes, a lady singer with a good voice and lovely all round 😉


  34. Great message – keep it simple, keep it together.
    My mom’s side of the family is Christian, so when I was growing up, we used to have a big family gathering with lots of presents and carols around the piano. Nowadays, we still have the family gathering, but more often than not, I’m in Sydney (my family is in Malaysia) so I can’t join. No matter, I’ll have a larger family soon (my partner and I just got engaged!) and his family is in Newcastle, so let the family gatherings begin again!

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  35. Sometimes I feel Christmas festive is being commercialized. It is amazing to see the increasing product sales during the holiday season. The only thing I loved about Christmas though, a gathering with friends and family to enjoy food and good wine. That happens in the Netherlands, where we will spend hours at dining table talking and discussing about everything. Although we can do it any time we wanted to, however, during Christmas, we tried to make it more special by cooking meals that we haven’t tried before 🙂 Wishing you a wonderful Holiday Season!

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    • It really is so interesting to see so many sales around Christmas. But agree with you that there is nothing like spending time with the company we love and having great food. I hope the meals you have tried cooking for Christmas turned our okay. But if not, it must have been fun making them anyway and everyone got a good laugh all round 🙂

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  36. Interesting perspective on how other cultures see Christmas Mabel. It’s not as much fun as it was when we were kids but we still love the lights, the parties, the food and most importantly the family time.Since my husband and I travel north to be with family we only have a very small fake tree and a poinsettia or two, and there’s lots of extra work to do shopping, wrapping and shipping, but it doesn’t last long and the feelings of cameraderie and friendship are always welcome! Happy New Year to you!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you it takes time to do shopping and get the gifts to those whom we bought them for. But it is always the thought that counts, that we are thinking of them. Sometimes the hardest part is what gift to get them. I hope you have luck on that side 🙂 Wishing you well this season and New Year, Tina!


  37. Being Jewish I do not celebrate Christmas and as a child I was rather envious of this lovely holiday with lots of gifts and a decorated lovely tree. My parents always made sure we got invited to either friends of theirs or business associates so at least we got a little bit of a taste of Christmas even though we could not actually celebrate in our own home.

    When we are traveling and it’s Christmas it has become our tradition to try to find a dim sum restaurant wherever we are. This year it probably will be different as we are heading up North in Sri Lanka where the food is definitely Indian in nature.

    Have a wonderful holiday season Mabel.


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  38. Oh, I do love that Christmas time in Asia is a time for great food and celebrating family. In hospitality I see so many who have lost the idea of Christmas, so many splintered families who use the holidays for a quick get-away.
    I’ve always wanted to experience a true winter Christmas, it’s on my bucket list – but then I’d have to transport my entire family with me (a tad outa my moolah bracket), so I usually end up working on Christmas Day and so over the usual festive food season, I’m afraid I have become a bit of a Bah Humbug gal by default…. so disappointing because in my heart I love all the tinsel and family and food and people catching up, it’s just in practice by the time I get to our families festivities I’m a bit Christmas punch drunk!!!!
    I really MUST do something about this attitude of mine…… “on the bucket list it goes”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is so true that many use the Christmas holiday for a quick getaways. On one hand, a holiday is always great and it is a time of the year when everyone is free. But then there is always appreciate what we have and the simple things like love and being together at home.

      I hope you do find some quiet time this Christmas,even if it is a quick break in between all your hospitality events and working on the day. Remember to take care of yourself, and I’m sending you a big, big, big hug and a kiss your way, big sis x


  39. First off, thanks for the mention!! 🙂

    I love reading about how different countries celebrate Christmas. Thanks for sharing your experiences. The way you describe Christmas day with getting up early to get a parking spot and the large crowds shopping is similar to the days leading up to Christmas in Canada. It is all part of the Christmas rush and it is something that I don’t miss.

    I went to Taipei yesterday and the displays there are pretty awesome this year. We spent the morning and afternoon checking them out. I would have loved to have checked them out at night, but I think it would have been too much for my son.

    I love the pics you included in this post, especially the tree with splashes of Micky Mouse! Very cool!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It seems the Christmas rush and shopping is something that happens all over the world. Given the choice between shopping and looking at displays, I’d look at the displays as they can be works of art and some of them have important messages.

      I hope your son enjoyed Taipei and the decorations there. It sounded like a cozy little family trip and maybe more trips to come with him soon 🙂


  40. “Keep it simple, keep it together”- that’s the essence of any festival including Christmas. Christmas is one of the most popular festivals. Even non-Christians like us indulge in the joyousness of Christmas. I love all the decoration around the city, the churches getting new colours and all decked up with Christmas trees and shining stars. And, as it is winter here in India, we tend to be in a festive mood during the Christmas.

    Apart from all these, the most important thing to me is, I love to see all the smiles and happy faces around. I feel happier…. 🙂


    • I’m guessing it is considerably cooler in Indian around Christmas, and that is all the more incentive to get into the spirit of Christmas. Certainly anyone can join in celebrating Christmas, just like with other festivals too.

      Hope you get to see some lovely decorations around your neighbourhood this year. And lots of happy faces like these 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  41. Allo! I finally have time to write something in response – it’s been a tiring week…

    I think it’s worth noting from the start that, despite the name, what’s celebrated around the world as ‘Christmas’ actually has virtually nothing to do with Christianity. So I’m confounded and dismayed as to why those of the politically-correct avoid celebrating or even mentioning Christmas for fear of ‘offending’ non-Christians while proclaiming all manner of non-Christian rituals at other times of the year. As you say, it’s commemorated all around the world with a myriad of differing traditions for different reasons so why should Christmas – Christian or otherwise – be singled out for exclusion?

    I like your childhood story of Christmas shopping with your family. When I was younger I remember being dragged around the shops too (not necessarily at Christmas time). I was never much of a shopper, not then, not now. Now that you’re older, do you like retail shopping of your own volition? Funny that Macca’s was a treat for you back then.

    When we were younger I recall a few extended family gatherings – at least those of us in Sydney – but we tend to do that more for Chinese New Year than Christmas. Nowadays I still join my parents and brother for a traditional Western-style Christmas lunch with the roast turkey, etc. We’ve been fortunate in Sydney to have fairly mild Christmas Days the past several years, I think. I recall one Christmas Day when Dad’s foster mum visited with two of her granddaughters and it was an uncomfortably hot day in the high 30s if not low 40s. Cooking on hot days isn’t fun.

    It’s a shame that you found some of your extended family dinners awkward, that they didn’t know you better than that.

    How funny that Santa Clauses are still portrayed as a white man even in Asia! It does seem rather incongruent with the local population, doesn’t it? Although, I suppose it adds to the excitement of having someone foreign delivering the presents – you definitely know it’s not your family if it’s some white guy!

    One of the childhood memories I have is being taken along Oxford Street (I think) in London, Mum taking me window shopping at places like Harrod’s. I was very young then, of course.

    It’s funny that the stereotypical Christmas image comes predominantly from snow-laden wintry Europe – if Christmas is really supposed to be about Jesus born in Bethlehem, you wouldn’t think there would be much snow! The whole ‘Christmas in July’ idea irks me. Yuletide probably is a better name for it, if people really want to have some sort of celebration in (southern hemisphere) winter.

    I am fascinated that the celebration of Christmas is so widespread. Despite it not being a Christian celebration, I suppose it does tie in with the fact that Jesus is for all the world, he is not specific to a few nations. The idea that Christianity is only for Westerners is silly – Jesus was a Jew! Hardly the stereotypical white man of the West. And Christianity is pretty much dead in the Western world anyway – nowadays it flourishes in other places like Africa and China, and particularly wherever there’s oppression and persecution. The gift-giving we tend to do at Christmas comes from God giving his Son for the world – and that’s something we can all be thankful for!

    Thanks for your writing and I wish you a joyous Christmas and blessed New year too. Have a good time of rest and refreshment and hope to hear more from you in 2017.


    • Another insightful comment from you Simon with a number of thought-provoking points. It’s indeed interesting to see some people don’t want to have anything to do with Christmas. Maybe it is because of the word itself, “Christ”mas. Some words and the meaning underlying those words can strike an undesirable chord.

      Haha, I’m actually a sort of politically-correct person, as Denny pointed out in the comments… 😀

      I honestly feel that seeing Santa Claus as a jolly Western man is misleading the whole spirit of an authentic Christmas. But you do have a valid counterpoint there, and having someone foreign bringing you presents maybe adds a bit more excitement to the occasion. Christmas in July doesn’t rock my boat either – because that says to me you need the weather to be cold in order for Christmas to be authentic. Which is not true at all.

      These days I don’t actually enjoy shopping even if it is just by myself. I’d rather take a day trip somewhere and climb a mountain rather than buying something nice for myself.

      Certainly we can all be thankful for gift-giving. As cliched as this saying is and said over and over for generations, it is the thought that counts. I hope you have a wonderful rest of the year, Simon. Have a good 2017 too and thank you for your support 🙂


      • So much misunderstanding, misconception and connotation can put people off for the wrong reasons! It is sad, yes, but as you’ve already put forward, most nations around the world seem to make something of Christmas, for better or worse.

        Regarding political correctness, I’m thinking of those who tend to use such political sensitivities as a mask for their own agenda – against any particular group, really, but most often I see it as a thinly-veiled disguise for anti-Christian behaviour or thinking. I’m also against the opposite extreme, those who rail against political correctness just because they can, or just want to offend the most people possible because that is the blackness of their desire. I think we (humanity collectively) can talk about our differences in a mature and respectful way without being offensive or overly and unnecessarily careful. So in that sense I don’t count you politically correct – maybe considerate and respectful, but not like a ‘social justice warrior’ or to that extreme. (:

        And seeing bits of that conversation, I hope I can point out that I’m not religious in the strictest sense of the word, if I haven’t mentioned it previously. Religion is about what one must do in order to be ‘right’ or ‘good’, but being a follower of Jesus is about relationship, accepting what he has to offer while realising that nothing we do can ever be good enough in itself. I’ll leave it at that for now. (:

        Oh, well, I was thinking that if one is following the traditional, stereotypical Western version of Christmas, then a Caucasian Santa Claus makes sense. Having not been brought up in an Asian country, I don’t really have any thoughts or opinion on how it should be either way.

        I think the desire to have a winter celebration is more related to following that Yuletide celebration that you mentioned. It’s colder, so a good excuse to have a nice warm meal together, and such. But you’re right, wintry weather is not a requisite for enjoying Christmas at all.

        Good on you for enjoying the outdoors instead of the retail grind! 😉

        I would go a step further and say the thought is just as, if not more, important than the act, whether it’s giving or whatever. So thanks again for your words and thoughts and have a lovely ‘Christmas’ and New Year celebration whatever you choose to do.


        • I too agree that we should be able to talk about our differences collectively. For some of us who don’t, perhaps there is a kind of fear, a sense that will feel threatened by difference. That is sad, because more often than not difference brings much to learn and so we should all be able to participate in the many festivals around us.

          I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll said it again: I really like that you think of religion as central to a relationship 🙂

          Agreed the act is just as important as well as the thought. One can think so much, and do so little sometimes. After all, actions are what speaks the loudest.


  42. Super article again Mabel 🙂 I loved your sentence “These days, I don’t look forward to Christmas. But I don’t not look forward to it either” – that sums up the way my wife and I feel about Christmas too. Also being non-Christian, the religious side for us is not something that calls to us, but the opportunity to catch up with our son and some friends for a BBQ, or just drinks and conversation is wonderful – and I would say a little spiritual too. I hope you and you family have a wonderful Christmas Mabel – I hope the weather is good to you and you at least get a couple of presents, and maybe even see some new decorations in the street. All the best, Andy 🙂 Ho! Ho! Ho!

    Liked by 1 person

  43. Such an interesting reading, dear Mabel… Your posts reminds us “wat Christams is about”…
    As you say: “Not all of us commemorate the history behind Christmas or the birth of Jesus Christ”… I´d say that in our materialistic society we tend to forget what we are celebrating somehow… Christmas became a celebration most times led by ostentatious and consumerist behaviours.
    I like how you highlighted the importance of family and reunion, despite the cultural differences and beliefs… Thanks so much for this post and the important reminder, my friend… sending much love & wishing happy holidays, no matter how we celebrate it! 😉 ❤


    • “in our materialistic society we tend to forget what we are celebrating somehow” You said it so well, beautiful Aquileana. Materialism can seem so attractive, like how shopping can seem to give us satisfaction right now. But not necessarily in the long run.

      Despite cultural differences, we can all enjoy festive occasions locally. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas with lots of love, hugs and kisses my beautiful friend. Chat again soon ❤

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  44. I love this ‘ ‘Anyone can be a part of Christmas if their heart desires, just as we can make anything happen if really we want something and be a part of something and go for it’ This spells out the true multi cultural modern take on Christmas for me. Thank you for nailing it!

    It must have been a blast to have your own dining room in a fab restaurant for family Christmas celebrations, being part of the celebrations but also on your own terms too.

    I enjoyed how this post connects the reader to what shape or style Christmas presents itself! Here’s to all round happiness and hopefully a few new surprises. Looking forward to reading more too in the new year.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was actually fun having our own private dining room for big family dinners. It gave us privacy and there was always a waiter or waitress on hand to clear our dishes and divvy up each dish in the middle of the table and put it on our plates for us.

      I hope you have a good Christmas, Lita. Best wishes and hope you have nice surprises too. Enjoy and have fun.

      Liked by 1 person

  45. Seems to me that you have such a vivid recollection of your childhood and teenage memories, Mabel. I was actually like leafing through the same pages of my memories of the same. We, Filipinos, also see Christmas as a season for giving, togetherness, and having a good time to sum things up. If there is one thing that most unique and unwritten among the general practices we do during this time of the year, it would be us perceiving it as a season for forgiveness. I have seen this happening since childhood. Relatives, friends, neighbors, and like truly forget the bad things, the misunderstandings, among other forms of conflicts that call for forgiveness or reconciliation.

    At home, we embrace tradition and superstition when it comes to preparing food on Christmas Day and New Year’s (i.e., eve). Qeuso de Bola (Edam cheese) is a must have food on the table during Christmas Eve. It is like no Christmas without it. It was an iconic food and it still is. And it should come with rice cakes. On New Year’s eve, round fruits and noodle dishes dominate the table. Round fruits are there not only to symbolize money but for the attracting great monetary blessings. Noodles, on the other hand, are to be eaten for hopes of longevity.

    As to “non-food” superstitions to be observed on celebrating New Year, we should wear clothes with round prints on them and stuff our pockets with lots of coins or paper money. The weirdest of them all is to be awake at 12:00 am–when the the first day of the year starts; otherwise, we shall receive no blessing for the entire year. Lucky me, I have always been nocturnal!

    And, of course, there should be a lighting of firecrackers and fireworks not only for festive vibes but to drive away bad luck and other forms of negativity. I think we are much like Chinese for this one.

    Let us not get to togetherness part, please, my friend. It will break my tear duct…

    Have a happy Christmas and an amazing New Year, Mabel!

    2016 year was a pretty good run for both of us…Till next year and the years to come. Cheers!


    Love the music albeit the sad theme of it. I would like to think it is an irony for something. 😉


    • “perceiving it as a season for forgiveness.” I almost forgot about this one, Sony. Thank you so much for bringing this up. Forgiveness. It is something that makes us all move along together, learn from the past and hope for better time ahead together. One action doesn’t define a person and every now and then we should stop and see the best in others.

      Qeuso de Bola with rice cakes sounds delicious, and I would love to try them Filipino kind some day when I get the chance. It also does sound like a very homely affair when it comes to Christmas and New Year’s for you. I didn’t know round fruits symbolise money in Filipino culture. That is so very interesting.

      I like your tradition of staying past midnight on New Year’s day to welcome it in. In a way, that means you are eager for tomorrow to come on, and make the best of it.

      As for the music, you are right. There is a sad theme to the song. But I like the message behind it – that if we try and try to stick together, there will be a better day for all of us 😉

      Wishing you well this season and for the year ahead, Sony. You are one blogger and photographer I truly admire, and thank you for the support this year.


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