Earlier this month the Chinese web portal Sina posted a photo essay on the town of Yiwu (Zhejiang), where most of the world’s Christmas products come from. The main source is a huge commodities market dubbed the “Chinese Christmas Village.” Moving (and sometimes disturbing) photos show migrant workers toiling in harsh conditions to make decorations for a festival they know nothing about. The site Shanghaiist provides an English summary of the original Sina post.
On December 8, in response to the original Sina photo essay, the Gospel Times published a reaction by a Christian to the photos. The full article is translated below.
Sixty percent of the world's and more than 90 percent of China's Christmas supplies are made in Yiwu. A commercial and residential street in the second district of Fotang town in Yiwu City is known locally as the "Chinese Christmas Village." However, it has obtained this title not because the people there are fond of Christmas. In fact, the "villagers" there do not even know what Christmas is; they just produce Christmas products for the rest of the world.
September is the busiest time of the year for the "Chinese Christmas Village" because at that time the big Christmas orders for export to the US, Europe, and other places need to be shipped. Before that, however, the "villagers" have already been preparing the goods for a long time. But the work doesn’t end in September because that’s when domestic orders begin pouring in. They work hard until Christmas Day, December 25, and only after that does the work load begin to lighten.
However, not every villager of "Chinese Christmas Village" understands the meaning of Christmas. According to Seen, a photo-journalism site on Sina, a young worker at a local plant flatly admitted that he knows there is such a holiday, but that he doesn’t know specifically what the holiday is about.
At first glance, the "Chinese Christmas Village" seems to be a place full of Christmas spirit; in fact, it is a place that regards Christmas as only a business to celebrate. People do not care about what "Christmas" means. They just know that Christmas will bring them financial profit, and thus it is about an industry, the production of related products, and earning commercial profit.
In fact, this is just a concentrated manifestation of the contemporary attitude people have toward Christmas in this day and age. This has long been the type of behavior in all of China and is also true the world over. In other countries, the day after Thanksgiving Day is called "Black Friday" because businesses vigorously promote special discounts and continue to do so until Christmas. This time becomes the season when people buy a lot of merchandise and the merchant’s books overflow with black ink (black meaning profit).
Pursuit of financial profit is always at the forefront of society. In China, the first shop signs posted in the "Chinese Christmas Village" are not for Christian organizations, but for Yiwu's business district. Here, faith lags far behind the speed of the market; a godly holiday has suddenly turned into a "money-making opportunity."
Unfortunately, this mood is not confined to the small commercial street in Yiwu; it has flooded the entire society.
There are very few people who choose to celebrate Christmas or who truly understand its meaning. Some people cater to its popularity and only celebrate Christmas because it is trendy. Others know that this is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Savior. But what is the true meaning of Christmas?
In fact, Jesus was not born on December 25, the day Christians celebrate Christmas, nor is it the day to just celebrate his birth. In fact, we don’t know the specific date of Jesus' birth. However, in church history December 25 became the traditional day to commemorate the birth of Jesus; this is the origin of the Christmas celebration. But it’s not just a birthday party; it’s a time to commemorate the birth of Jesus, to remember the history of that era, to reflect on its significance, to prepare to greet the return of Christ, and to encounter the story of Christ's birth in real life again.
Jesus Christ was born into this world because of the sin of mankind. God created the world and entrusted human beings with the authority and responsibility to care for the land. But our human ancestors disobeyed God's command and ate that fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, even though God had commanded them not to. In this way, sin entered the world. Humans lost the joy and peace of life, and became caught in a cycle of pain. To this day, the whole world is full of injustice and unrighteousness, from every corner of society to the heart of every thought.
The birth of Jesus is the beginning of the solution for the problem of our sin. He is the Almighty Creator, but for us he became a baby, being born in a manger. In the end he was crucified, paying our penalty for us, bearing the cost of sin on our behalf, redeeming us out of the bondage of sin. As long as we trust in him, we can have a new life and will no longer be the object of God's wrath and punishment, but become children of God's love. Through Christ, God accepts us and we become his children in whom he delights and gives us eternal life.
Every year Christmas is the day Christians once again silently reflect on Jesus Christ coming to earth for man. It is absolutely not just a day to give each other gifts, nor is it a day of revelry. Even more, it is not a day packed with aroma of the "Chinese Christmas Village" business.
Unfortunately, many people do not know the true meaning of Christmas and we need to tell them. In fact, does not our preaching the gospel include Christmas as the most significant events in human history?
Original article: “中国圣诞村”村民竟不知何为圣诞节！
Photo Credit: Chindia-alert.org
Are you enjoying a cup of good coffee or fragrant tea while reading the latest ChinaSource post? Consider donating the cost of that “cuppa” to support our content so we can continue to serve you with the latest on Christianity in China.