Santa Claus either lives in Greenland or Lapland according to who in the Nordic region you ask but his workshop is located in the Chinese city of Yiwu, which exports 80 percent of the world’s Christmas decorations.
Although Christmas is not a tradition in China, Yiwu which is located in Zhejiang province in eastern China, is probably the closest you get to an epicenter for Christmas, says TV2’s Asia Correspondent Christina Boutrup Lisbygd who recently visited Yiwu International Trade Market.
Yiwu International Trade Market is supposedly the world’s largest wholesale market for Christmas decorations and covers an area of six million square meters with more than 75,000 stores. Garlands and Christmas ornaments are hanging from floor to ceiling and they are available in all shapes and colors. The same goes for the countless variants of LED Christmas and there is also an entire forest of plastic Christmas trees in different shades of green that one can get lost in, Christina Boutrup Lisbygd says.
Yiwu is, on a Chinese scale, a small town with just over a million inhabitants. Before the pandemic, the town was a hub for traveling shoppers from all over the world but now almost all trade takes place online.
Yang Xiaojia, who exports garlands to Europe, the Middle East, and Korea amongst other places, say, “People can not come to China right now, so we have started selling online. We send pictures of the new products via WeChat or email, and then they can order online.”
Christmas decorations have also become popular in shopping malls and restaurants throughout China, especially in the big cities. But when Christina Boutrup Lisbygd asks several people why Christmas is celebrated, they admit that they have no idea because it is not a Chinese tradition.
“I really do not know. I’ve never really researched it, even though I work in this industry,” Yang Xiaojia says.
Also, Wang Yazhen, who sells hair bands with reindeer antlers and Santa hats on, which is one of the biggest trends in Europe and Scandinavia right now, does not know much about why people celebrate Christmas.
“I do not know. But we know that Santa Claus brings out presents,” she says with a laugh, adding that Christmas is a holiday where families gather just like for Chinese New Year.
Overall it’s safe to say that in the Chinese town of Yiwo where it’s Christmas year-round, the holiday has nothing to do with Jesus and Christianity. “It is pure business, “Christina Boutrup Lisbygd concludes.