We met Jimi and Tracy during our month in Taiwan, where they took us in and showed us everything there is to know about Kaohsiung, the island’s southernmost city. They answered our pestering persistent questions in trying to understand more about Taiwanese culture and translated all the time, and we became great friends with them.
When broaching the subject of Christmas in Taiwan, we knew that the dominating religion of Buddhism didn’t exactly recognize it, but had no idea just how celebrated the holiday really was. We’re excited to present Jimi and Tracy’s contribution to “12 Countries in 12 Days of Christmas”: Taiwan Edition!
What is a typical Christmas in Taiwan like?
Although Christian religion is not a main belief in Taiwan—there is only about 5% of Christian—and Christmas is not a national holiday here, more and more Taiwanese, whether Christian or not, celebrate Christmas. And of course, it is super commercialized with all the decorations, big sales and gift giving. Santa Claus from the North Pole is more familiar for Taiwanese than Jesus Christ who was born in the Manger. Christmas here is not a family thing, and it is more popular for people age under 30.
Parents of children at popular English schools expect a full Christmas festival, complete with gift exchanges, singing, and of course, a visit to the school from Santa! Many schools will perform a kind of Christmas pageant or play with sugar plum fairies, reindeer, snowflakes, elves and other Christmas characters singing on stage for parents. For us, we try to have a more Christ-centered Christmas with family at home.
What are some traditions in your own family?
Secret Santa: Each year when it comes to the first week of December, we will hold a Christmas Special Family Home Evening to decide a person or a family that we are going to give a secret service or a gift to. We make plans and do it all together as a family. It has always been the best memory throughout the year.
Watch “The Polar Express” movie: Before the movie was out, we read the story book. This is one of our December Family Home Evening activities. Although we learned that Santa Claus is Dad and Mom when we were old enough, watching this movie still helps us remember all the morals that it teaches.
My Dad is Santa Claus: Tracy’s Dad, because of his size, has always been asked to be Santa Claus for Christmas activities in school or at church. Tracy and her brother have always had a sense of pride since they were young when they told their friends that their dad is Santa Claus.
What kinds of food is a part of the holiday season?
There are no special foods/meals specific for Christmas in Taiwan.
What songs/music do Taiwanese listen to?
Jingle Bells is the most well know Christmas song. It is probably every child’s first Christmas song that they learn from school or parents. Here are two different translated versions:
What symbol represents Christmas best in Taiwan?
Santa Claus, Snow man, Christmas trees, candies, reindeers, ginger bread man and house, stockings, etc. Basically, it’s the same as in the US.