It’s true that the best gift you can receive for Christmas is the opportunity to give to others. However, I never thought I’d be dressing up in a red suit and walking the streets handing out presents for Christmas in China! But that’s what happened here on my first day at my new job in Guangzhou, China. My new boss asked if I could help play Santa for some of the lucky kids at our school. Well I have never dressed up as Santa before, but I surely was not going to pass on the opportunity to play the part and put some smiles on the kids faces. So I put on the jolly red suit and hit the streets of China with a bag of presents and spreading some Christmas cheer.
Do They Celebrate Christmas in China?
When I was asked to play Santa, I was a bit surprised because I didn’t think that Christmas was celebrated in China, for the most part. Boy was I wrong. There is Christmas cheer everywhere here in Guangzhou, China. They may not fully understand or celebrate the religious meaning of Christmas, but they seem to love the decorations, shopping, gift giving, and even the concept of Santa Claus.
My boss drove us around the confusing city of Guangzhou, while another Chinese teacher helped with directions to the student’s homes and called the parents to let them know we were on our way. As we rode around the city of Guangzhou delivering presents, I noticed that there were christmas decorations everywhere, including lights, signs and large trees. Even the department stores and malls are decked out, just as they are in the States, including playing non-stop Christmas music!
Santa Claus Brought Smiles, and Curiosity in China!
The experience of riding around town playing Santa to my new students was a real treat for me. The kids were amazed to see a real life Santa at their doorstep delivering gifts to them. It was such an awesome feeling to see the smiles on the kids faces as they got to hug and take pictures with Santa.
But at one point, things got a little crazy, and I suddenly knew what celebrities must feel like when they are getting rushed by fans. Our driver dropped us off in a busy part of the town and we were waiting outside on a sidewalk for the parents to come and meet us. It didn’t take long for crowds to form, with people whispering and kids shouting “Santa!” As people started to move in on us, I got a bit nervous as if there could be a potential mob coming our way.
The little kids on the streets couldn’t believe their eyes. They couldn’t decide if I was real or just a statue, so they were poking me! At one point, I was actually getting poked from all angles. Many of the kids wanted to take pictures with Santa too. And yes, even some of the adults asked to take photos with Santa.
“Santa, I’m Waiting for You!”
Some of the kids I delivered presents to were super shy, while others could hardly contain their excitement, knowing that Santa was on his way to give them a hug and a present. I had a little 5 year old boy tell me that it was always his dream to meet Santa. And as you can imagine, that was a heart melter. Another one of my students waited for me at the door of his 5th floor apartment, and as I was walking up the stairs and shouted down in perfect English, “Santa I’m waiting for you!”
Playing Santa Made for a Special Christmas in China
Playing Santa in China was a totally unexpected experience, but definitely one that will stay with me for life. After all, how many times can you tell a story about playing Santa Claus around the streets of Guangzhou, China? So even though we are missing are friends and family back at home, it’s moments like these that remind us exactly why we chose to go on this Around the World journey.