It’s not such a merry Christmas in this Chinese city. Authorities in Langfang, a city in China’s Hebei province, have banned all Christmas displays from streets and stores. Christmas is not a public holiday in China, and the new rules reflect a stricter approach to co-opting Western religious practices. Even though Christmas isn’t an official holiday, Chinese businesses still hang lights and special displays to draw huge crowds of shoppers. “The use of parks and other open spaces to spread religion will be managed and controlled,” the official notice said.
This isn’t the first time such strictures have been imposed. Last December, the city of Hengyang asked Communist Party officials to “resist the rampant Western festival.” The China Communist Youth League in Anhui even wrote on social media that “Christmas is China’s day of shame” and represents a cultural invasion by the West.
According to the Global Times, a Communist Party-run newspaper, the city’s efforts are less of a Christmas ban, and more of an attempt to score points with the Communist Party. Indeed, critics see the crackdown as a desperate attempt by the city to win the favor of the Chinese government, which has recently taken steps to curb expressions of Christian and Muslim faith. Although many Chinese people celebrate Christmas as a secular holiday, the hostility toward Western traditions and celebrations has been on the rise, and the crackdown on Christmas is just one of many ways the Chinese government is trying to reject Western values.
Ironically, Chinese workers manufacture four-fifths of the Christmas lights sold in the United States.