Chinese university bans Christmas; B.C. scene different

A Chinese university has banned Christmas, calling it a “kitsch” Western festival Chinese that people should stop “fawning over.”

The news about the university’s Christmas ban hit yesterday, four days after my Saturday feature appeared on

My piece included a look at how intellectuals in China, including some writing for Canadian think tanks, view Christmas as a “cultural invasion” by the West, “threatening China’s 5,000 year-old civilization.

The helpful thing to add to this news out of China, and my own feature-column, is that Insights West, a B.C.-based polling company, was able in the past couple of days to provide me with some exclusive data on how ethnic Chinese people in the province view Christmas.

Insights West’s findings back up what was reported in my Saturday feature that the roughly 400,000 ethnic Chinese in Metro Vancouver mark Christmas in ways that are both similar and different to the rest of the population.

Indeed, the ethnic Chinese residents of B.C. are widely diverse themselves, showing great variation based on time spent in Canada, and based on country of origin — with people from Hong Kong, for instance, often feeling quite distinct from those from mainland China.

Some of the insights from the polling by Insights West are that ethnic Chinese in B.C., compared to other British Columbians, are:

– less likely to have a Christmas tree at home

– less likely to see Christmas as a time for the joy of children

– more likely to take time off

– more likely to exchange gifts they are given

– more likely to dislike the presents they receive

Or, as Insights West pollster Mario Canseco put it in regard to gifting: Ethnic Chinese are “twice as likely to exchange gifts (they receive) than the average BC resident. One third are expecting to re-gift this season. And they are hard to please when it comes to gifts.”

On the other hand, there are also similarities between ethnic Chinese and other British Columbians. They are about as likely as others to see Christmas as a time to relax, to have a special dinner and to “believe in Jesus, Mary and Joseph” (the latter reflecting how roughly one out of four ethnic Chinese in Metro, unlike in China, are Christians).


Here’s some raw data Canseco sent about the ethnic Chinese response to Insights West’s “All Things Christmas” poll:

{Note: The first percentage figure represents the views of ethnic Chinese in B.C. The second figure represents the views of all British Columbians. Canseco marked the big differences, shown here in boldface.}

Question #1 – How do you plan to celebrate Christmas?

Special Dinner – 80% (lower than 87% in BC)
Attend service – 29% (on par 26% for BC)
Christmas tree at home – 52% (lower than 68% in BC)
Buy gifts – 85% (on par with 84% in BC)
Send cards – 53% (lower than 59% in BC)
Help less fortunate – 57% (on par with 60% in BC)

Question #2

Together with family – 70% (lower than 83% in BC)
Joy of children – 18% (lower than 31% in BC)
Decorate home/office – 13% (lower than 18% in BC)
Time off – 44% (way higher than 24% in BC)
Give/receive presents – 27% (higher than 23% in BC)
Special food – 32% (on par with 30% in BC)
Relaxing – 49% (higher than 44% in BC)

Question #3

Likely to DISLIKE gifts – 73% (way higher than 41% in BC)
Likely to exchange gifts – 40% (higher than 21% in BC)
Likely to re-gift – 32% (Higher than 21% in BC)

Question #4

Believe in Jesus, Mary and Joseph? – 44% (on par with 47% in BC)

Question #5

Religion a significant or moderate part of holiday? – 37% (on par with 36% in BC)

The poll surveyed 815 British Columbians, including 244 of ethnic Chinese origin. The poll on the ethnic breakdown has a margin of error of plus or minus six per cent.