News / Asia

Christmas is Big Business for Chinese Village

Christmas is Big Business for Xitan, China's 'Christmas Village'i
December 20, 2013 3:33 PM
In China’s “Christmas Village,” there are many signs of the annual holiday, but this year -- no public celebrations. VOA’s Bill Ide visited the place where Christmas ornaments remain big business, even though the holiday itself has been a source of controversy.
In Xitan, China’s “Christmas Village,” it’s easy to see that holiday trinkets are big business. However, this Christmas, unlike in past years, there are no public celebrations or Christmas lights lining the streets.
Xitan is nestled in the mountains of the eastern province of Zhejiang, just downstream from a large reservoir. The weather is cool this time of year, but there is definitely no snow and it’s nothing like Santa’s frigid North Pole workshop.
Even so, Xitan shipped about $100 million in ornaments and decorations to places as far away as Europe, the United States and Brazil.
Wang Lianming is the head of one of Xitan's earliest Christmas decoration companies, Ruian D-Bright Arts and Crafts, and the village party chief.
Wang said that while the overseas market is still the main focus of D-Bright's business, interest in the holiday is growing in China as well.
"In the past, Christmas was just a holiday celebrated overseas, few here in China knew much about it," he said. "But in recent years, celebration of the holiday in China has been catching on, as has the sale of ornaments and trinkets."
Before D-Bright started handcrafting Christmas ornaments, it made disco balls, and still does. Like many other factories here, the company is branching out to make trinkets for other Western holidays as well, even Halloween and masks for Brazil's Carnival.
Xitan is home to about 3,000 people. The narrow streets and surrounding hills make up a network of some 40 larger factories and around 200 smaller workshops.
At one warehouse just outside of the village, a man surnamed Peng is dipping rows of ornament tops in a soupy, noxious-smelling paint. Peng is not from Xitan, but brought his family here to work.
Peng said that while there are too many factories here and the environment is not as nice as his hometown in Hunan, the work puts food on the table.
"I will go wherever the work is, as long as I can make some money that is all that matters," said Peng.
Xitan has a large number Christian population, but some say it is the village's knack for handicrafts, not religion, that has made the making of ornaments such a staple industry here.
One factory owner, Wang Songjiang, said he knows little about the meaning behind the decorations or the holiday.
"Christmas is a holiday for foreigners, we don't really know what it is all about. It's enough for us to know that these ornaments are for the celebration of Christmas, and that we can do business and earn money," said Wang.
However, for some in Xitan, Christmas is a time of religious celebration. At times, that has given rise to controversy. Two years ago, when the village was hosting a celebration of the town's Christmas industry, some say local Christians turned the activity into a religious affair. Local Christians say authorities "pulled the plug" on an approved event.
Village party chief Wang Lianming said the event was canceled because it was felt that a religious tone was inappropriate for the ceremony. "We stopped holding the celebration because of religious issues and the religious tone some wanted to give to the event. It is not right to take a cultural event and turn it into a religious event," said Wang.
Wang said the event was meant to be more a celebration of how Xitan has made a name for itself, and its ability to create and find business opportunities, than a celebration of the holiday itself.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: oldlamb from: Guangzhou
December 23, 2013 9:27 AM
Chinese always are not conscious of what they do is God's mission.With160 million people are Christians,China absolutely is the bigest Christian country in the world.Most of bibles(or handcrafting Christmas ornaments) in the world were produced in China,then sold to every corner of the world.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs