Christmas is by far my favourite time of year, and I’m a bit of a purist when it comes to the rituals of the holiday season: pudding Sunday a month before, a fresh tree going up no earlier than the 1st of December, nothing but Christmas carols in the week leading to the day, and so on. I’ve adapted a few old traditions and adopted a few new ones since I left home, but the one thing I found really hard to embrace was Christmas in Hong Kong.
In the early years, when I would complain about being “stuck” in Hong Kong, I tried to make the best of what I felt was a bad situation by celebrating the fact that it was cold (as an Aussie it’s a novelty!), and baking every hot Christmas treat I could find a recipe for.
The mulled wine and mince pies worked their magic and, every year since, as our family has grown and we’ve made ourselves more at home, we’ve come to realise that this city does Christmas in a big way. We’ve grown to love spending the end of the year in our adopted city, and we now have a long list of Christmas-in-Hong-Kong traditions: we watch the light show on the harbour – all the more extravagant at this time of year; we take a tour of the shopping centres to find the gaudiest decorations, and a trip to watch The Nutcracker at the Cultural Centre; and we always buy a real tree from our local supermarket.
The first year we bought a tree it arrived on the last weekend in November, so it was half-dead by the time Christmas came around. But that has now become a treasured part of our family Christmas – guessing how early the tree will arrive and taking bets on whether or not it will go the distance!
It took me a long time living in Hong Kong and fighting it to realise the true meaning of “home is where the heart is”. I think after so many years here now, I’ve learned that the spirit of Christmas lives here too.
This article first appeared in Expat Living‘s City Guide 2016/17
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