Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you had a fantastic day and Santa was generous to you all! As was to be expected, Christmas in Shijiazhuang was a unique experience and very different to my Christmases in the UK and Australia. To start with, the Chinese don’t really celebrate Christmas at all, it’s not a public holiday, students still go to school (mine even had exams!) and to most people here it’s just another day. Christmas Eve however has its own tradition: Apple giving. A few weeks ago I noticed that a lot of my students were writing ‘apples’ on the board when I asked them to write what they knew about Christmas. After some questioning and explanation, it turns out that on Christmas Eve, many students give apples to their teachers to convey peace and good fortune. I got 3 myself,not bad at all!
So instead of having a typical Christmas Eve of wrapping presents I worked until almost 7pm. After that a few of us went out for dinner (tradition of Chinese food on Christmas Eve still intact) which was paid for by some Chinese friends of ours which we ran into. That was much appreciated and began the feeling of happiness and merriment which continued into the early hours of the morning, (I eventually kicked Sam and Izzie out around 3). I also finally replaced my phone with Sean’s iPhone so spent the evening practicing panoramas – expect to see many in the future. With a countdown to Christmas Day at midnight, it turned into a great evening.
Christmas Day I woke up early and immediately put on Muppets Christmas Carol and made a cup of Yorkshire tea with asda milk. After watching Love Actually, it was time to swap secret Santa gifts. I ended up getting some Japanese tea from Marta, and Sam brought me down a much appreciated M&S mince pie! Then it was time to get dressed up and head to the Hilton for a dinner.
We were at the Hilton from the minute it opened to when they asked us to leave. There was so much food, and such good wine. Because there were so many of us we had our own private room which meant we could laugh and talk loudly, just like a regular Christmas meal. We were even able to have turkey, although with a side of potato wedges or hash browns; I had 5 plates of food!!
After a nightmare getting a taxi home, I was eventually able to crawl into bed , watch the Grinch and skype family.
Boxing Day dawned bright and early, and me Izzie and Sam ventured to Sarahs house for gift giving and movie watching. We had all eaten so much the day before that we weren’t hungry in the slightest, and we were going out for dinner that night with Mr Johns mayor friend, so we wanted to save our appetite. The late night had got to those of us who had gone out the night before, so whilst me and Sam watched Harry Potter, the others slept.
Once we’d woken them up it was time to go to a fancy Chinese restaurant and have a Pingyao reunion. We quickly found our appetites, and had some lovely Peking duck and more good wine. By the end of this meal I was exhausted, and not looking forward to lesson planning the next day!