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Anyone bemoaning the loss of the True Meaning of Christmas probably shouldn’t celebrate in China. Here, it’s mostly business as usual on the 25th. Vacation time won’t come until weeks later for China’s own winter holiday: Chinese New Year in mid-February.

当圣诞节成为购物季,总有人惋惜圣诞节失去了真正的意义。12月25日是圣诞节,是购物季,但是在中国,明年2月中旬的农历新年才是中国人自己的节假日。

Santa exists primarily in malls, plus the occasional grocery store or cafe. Some members of the younger generation have started playing Secret Santa, while others have bought artificial trees for their homes and offices.

在中国,圣诞节主要体现在购物中心、偶尔也能在超市和咖啡馆体会到圣诞节的气氛。中国一些年轻人已经开始玩起“秘密圣诞老人”的游戏,另一些人买来人造圣诞树,给家里和办公室增添一些圣诞氛围。

There is, however, one Christmas tradition that’s distinctly Chinese: Apples.

然而中国圣诞节竟有一项特别的“传统”——买苹果。

The Chinese word for apple, pingguo, sounds a lot like the Chinese word for Christmas Eve, ping’an ye, and, as such, a tradition has formed. While Americans shell out wads of US dollars for high-tech presents like iPhones and Xboxes, Chinese friends simply exchange apples.

汉语的苹果音同平安夜的平,就因为发音相同,传统就这么形成了。美国人在圣诞节这天要花大笔钱购置iPhone和Xbox等作为礼物,而中国人只需要互赠苹果就行了。

I’m in an over-lit fruit market in Hangzhou. Christmas music—albeit in Mandarin—is playing over the store loudspeakers. Staffers are wearing green aprons and red Santa caps. This is the most Christmas spirit I’ve seen outside Starbucks.

我现在在杭州一家灯火辉煌的水果市场,商店的喇叭里放着普通话唱的圣诞歌曲,员工们身着绿衣头戴红帽,这是我在星巴克之外,见到的对圣诞精神坚持地最好的地方了。

It’s an odd time to grocery shop—Saturday night, just before closing—but the store is full. Santa-capped employees hand bags of fruit to a stream of customers.

其实在周六晚上、商店即将关门的时候来逛商店还真是挺奇怪的,不过里面的人还是满满的。戴着圣诞老人帽子的工作人员向如织的顾客递上一袋袋的水果。

I walk past stacks of tiny, apple-sized boxes. Some boxes are clear, save for the outlines of cute cartoon bears with tiny plastic ears popping up on top. Some boxes proclaim “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy New Year!” in English on their sides. Some apples aren’t in boxes at all, but are rather all tied up in festive pink and purple cellophane.

我走过成堆的苹果大小的小盒子,有的盒子上面什么都没有,是个可爱小熊的样子。有些盒子侧面用英文写着“圣诞快乐”和“新年快乐”。有些苹果干脆没有盒子,只是用粉色和紫色的玻璃纸包起来。

I opt for a more traditional Western package of red and green cardboard and I call over an employee for help. He’s dressed in head-to-toe Santa Claus garb, complete with black boots and a fake beard.

我选了一个更有西方传统味道的红绿硬板纸包装苹果,叫来全身穿戴圣诞老人服装脚踏黑靴子戴着假胡子的工作人员帮我处理。

“Merry Christmas!” I say, momentarily forgetting that this particular Kris Kringle might not understand me.

我对他说:“Merry Christmas!”,说这话的时候我忘了这在中国,对方虽然穿成这样,但有可能听不懂我在说什么。

When a friend once told me to bring apples to my first-ever Chinese dinner party, it seemed like a cheap offering until I saw the price: Nearly 70 RMB (over $10) for just a few of them. That’s not unbearably expensive, but the cost is comparable to produce we’d consider exotic in the US.

曾有个朋友告诉我,如果第一次去中国人家里做客,最好带点苹果,嗯,听上去好像很便宜,然而看了价钱才发现,几个苹果竟然要70元。虽然说贵得也还能接受,但是几乎赶上在美国买进口水果的价钱了。

Meanwhile, in the fruit market in my neighborhood, a woman in a Santa cap is ringing me up at the cashier.

在收银台,一位头戴圣诞老人帽子的女士为我结账。

“Merry Christmas,” I say, once again forgetting about the language barrier. Then I realize I don’t even know how to say Christmas in Mandarin. Instead, I fall back on my old faithful phrase, one which I hope will evoke what I mean: A big smile and “Xiexie, zaijian.”

我又说了一次“Merry Christmas”,又把语言隔阂这茬给忘了。这时我才想起,我连“Christmas”的汉语都不会说。所以我只好用老一套但是很管用的表达——笑容满面地说声:“谢谢,再见。”

文章来源:沪江英语

图片来源:视觉中国

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