I guess it is becoming a sort of tradition for me to host a Christmas cookie decorating party for my Chinese friends, as well as a couple of foreigners. It is a distinctly Western activity in which they love to participate and they are really good at it! I think in a way it feels to them the same as I feel when I’m making jiaozi.
I make the gingerbread dough ahead of time and my friends enjoy rolling it out and cutting shapes. The sugar cookies have already been cut and baked, ready to go while the gingerbread is getting started. Lots of sprinkles and icing and broken limbs of gingerbread men make for lots of fun and mess! The Chinese are quite creative with the cookies – intricate faces, Chinese characters, and clever designs. Of course there is lots of girl talk and stories of Christmases past. I think we managed to eat less than we made and my friends took home plenty of cookies to show off to parents or spouses or roommates.
Christmas is not an official holiday in China, but it is becoming a fashionable holiday to celebrate. However, the entire basis of the meaning of Christmas – peace and good will to all mankind – is completely lost on them. If you thought Christmas has become entirely commercial in America, it has never been anything but commercial here. See this BBC article for more on this. Thankfully, it has a little bit deeper meaning for my friends this year.
Wishing all of you a very blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year!