The University of Iowa

First American Christmas

December 19th, 2013

By Siqi Wang for The Daily Iowan

The stress of finals is almost over, and there is no need to eat fast food, drink energy drinks, or think about which tests you did poorly on. It’s now time to plan your winter break.

Some of you may have already begun to pack your clothes. As you read this story, I will be in Miami enjoying the blue sky, great sunshine, and peaceful beach with my friends after this high-pressure finals week.

This winter break will be different for me — it will be the first time I’ll spend it in the United States. Because of this, I suddenly realized it would also be my first American Christmas, and I have no idea what to expect.

In China, we also celebrate Christmas but not like how most Americans celebrate.

Santa will not send gifts to everyone, but he will appear on the streets to celebrate the holiday with saying Sheng Dan Kuai Le, meaning Merry Christmas. Turkey and ham are not the main course of the Christmas meal; instead, typical Chinese food such as Ba Bao Fan — sweet rice with eight different ingredients — a Chinese dessert.

In China, people do not stay at home, instead they attend a party hosted by many famous hotels. These parties for Chinese are more like a relaxing time for families and friends to come together and celebrate. For us, Christmas doesn’t have any religious meaning.

Christmas is more like a commercial festival for Chinese. But like the United States, many businesses want to take this opportunity to encourage people to shop. I always watch the news to see how much money malls have earned compared with last year during the Christmas season.

As for me, I will spend Christmas in Washington, D.C., this year. My plan is to wear a very exaggerated Christmas sweater and hang out with friends who live there. I might even pretend to dress up like a Christmas gift, go on the street, and then see who will try to open me.

I wish you all have a wonderful winter break, especially Christmas … I know I will.