Christmas Eve

On Christmas Eve, I enjoyed some quality time with Sara, Chris, John, Gareth, and Divi.

Gareth, in addition to John, is the other foreign teacher in my department. He teaches my former students, now second years. Divvi is a friend of Chris and John’s who used to teach at XISU, but has moved on to bigger and better things: teaching at a different university in Xi’an. He is also a certified yoga teacher and will happily give Sara and I instruction after the holidays so that we can better enjoy the yoga classes our gym offers. I’m pretty excited about that…

We dined at the Indian restaurant Delhi Darbar. I can say with confidence that it is one of my favorite places to eat in Xi’an. Yes, you read that correctly… I look forward to eating Indian food in China. Then we took a walk around the Big Wild Goose Pagoda (大雁塔) to enjoy the lovely sights. The lovely sights being hordes of Chinese dressed in masks, devil horns, and other arrays of Halloween-esque costumes. There was even a young girl dressed in a Kimono. For some reason or another, the Chinese have imported a very peculiar version of Western Christmas. Chinese Christmas consists of walking around your city wearing masks, horns, bunny ears, minnie mouse ears etc., in addition to giving your close friends or your boyfriend/girlfriend an apple. Sometimes, these apples have images on them. They might even say “平安 safe and sound.” In this context, you want to wish the person good health, prosperity and overall wellbeing. Apples symbolize good health in Chinese culture (similar to the expression “An apple a day, keeps the doctor away”). Of course, all these traditions are mostly embraced by the younger generation.

A handful of my students told me about their Christmas celebrations during their final exams. Most of them spent time with their friends, enjoying a meal or singing at KTV. And of course, they wanted to inquire as to what I did. Many of them, even after our holiday class discussions, wished me a merry christmas, or asked how I celebrated Christmas. I guess they forgot about our Hanukkah discussions…Oh, well, I tried!

Now, for the photo montage (the first five are courtesy of Chris)…

Sara, Chris and I at Delhi Darbar. 
A masked Chinese…no photo is complete without the victory sign! 
Real nice… 
The whole gang sans John. Right to Left: Sara, Chris, Gareth, and Divi.  
Lights! Always during the holidays, including the Chinese New Year, there are lights on every tree, bush, or branch. 
Devil horns, anyone? 
Do you think this trolley has enough decorations? I think not! 
I managed to capture this with perfect timing., and without her being aware. I did this many times. It was revenge for all the times Chinese have captured pictures of “my foreignness” without asking. Throughout the evening, I snapped away, in utter glee. 
Don’t pay attention to the foreground of this image, but in fact, the artsiness of the shadows against the fountain wall, with the Pagoda pictured perfectly behind. 
Even parents thought it wise to subjugate their children to the absurdity of Chinese Christmas, or the loveliness, depends on what side of the spectrum you are on, I guess. 
Two masked girls who were utterly confused when I actually asked if I could take their picture. One of their friends literally bolted upon hearing me ask in Chinese, “可以我照相你吗,” “Can I take your picture?.” 
Poor children. Not sure what emotion they should be expressing for the strange foreigners. Of course, their parents were happy to “show” them off. 
Unfortunately, the expensive car, presumably an Audi, is blocking your view of the entire greeting, “圣诞快乐!, Merry Christmas.”

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