LANGFANG, China – You better watch out, you better not cry; you better not pout, I’m telling you why: A ban on Christmas decorations is coming to one town in China, according to multiple press reports.
The drastic ban on items used to celebrate what is mostly a secular holiday in the world’s second-biggest economy is being enforced in Langfang, in northern Hebei Province, where officials say the move will “maintain stability.”
Christmas is not an officially recognized holiday in China, but the holiday is associated with Christianity. The crackdown on Christmas decorations is compatible with government interference in “unauthorized Christian worship,” according to the Post.
One Langfang city worker has denied the ban targets Christmas goods, and said it is a move to curb on-street sales of products.
“We don’t allow shops to place their products out in the street, even if it is fruit or perfumes…It’s not just during Christmas.”
According to The New York Times, public spaces are not exempt from the crackdown.
“The use of parks and other open spaces to spread religion will be managed and controlled…If found, monitor closely and report them to superiors,” the city said in its notice.
Reports of the ban come after dozens of police officers reportedly disrupted a children’s Bible class in Guangzhou, a city in southern China, over the weekend. Other authorities in Beijing closed down a 1,500-member church in September.
The Global Times reported Langfang’s policy is part of an effort to better its standing in China’s “National Civilized Cities” ratings, promoted by the Chinese Communist Party.
In recent years, the atheistic Chinese Communist Party has taken a hard-line stance on most religions. The government has demolished Christian churches, evicted congregations that meet in people’s homes and detained outspoken pastors and bishops. Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged authorities to “guide and educate the religious circle” — religious organizations, clergy and worshipers — “and their followers with the socialist core values.”
Langfang is not the first Chinese city to ban Christmas. Also this month, Hengyang in the Hunan province sent a notice forbidding Christmas celebrations on the streets and asking Communist Party members to set an example by boycotting Christmas. Last December, college students in the Hunan province protested the holiday, wearing traditional clothing and carrying signs asking people to “resist Christmas.” Elementary schoolers in the western province of Shaanxi swore under the national flag in November 2017 to “say no to Western festivals. Start with myself. Pass down traditions. Celebrate Chinese festivals.”
As always, people took to Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, to debate the issue.
“I’m OK with not celebrating Christmas,” said a Chinese netizen that supports the ban. “We blindly follow the West and have ignored Chinese traditions.”
Those on the other side believe the bans only show the government’s insecurity.
“Why don’t we boycott Marxism? It came from the West, too,” joked a Weibo user.