In the mainland, a small percentage of Chinese citizens consider themselves Christians unofficially, and they observe Christmas.
Commercial Christmas decorations, signs, and other symbolic items have become increasingly prevalent before this time in large urban centers of mainland China. Their cultural interest in this Western phenomenon helps retail marketing campaigns as well. Many Chinese customs, including sending cards, exchanging gifts, and hanging stockings are very similar to Western celebrations.
Within an hour, township officials and uniformed men barged onto the church ground and tore down the cross.
An anonymous church official spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday for fear of government retaliation. "They keep a very close watch on us, and there is nothing we can do. The situation is not good, as any attempt to re-erect the cross will be stopped."
That means many Christians in the eastern Chinese province of Zhejiang, will worship this Christmas under a cross-less roof. Provincial authorities have toppled crosses from more than 400 churches, and even razed some worship halls in a province-wide crackdown on building code violations.
Many Christians say their faith has been singled out because authorities, wary of its rapid growth, are seeking to curb its spread in a campaign that has targeted China's most thriving Christian communities.
Estimates for the number of Christians in China range from the conservative official figure of 23 million to as many as 100 million by independent scholars, raising the possibility that Christians may rival in size the 85 million members of the ruling Communist Party.
In August, Beijing rounded up Christian pastors and religious scholars in a national seminar with the edict that the Christian faith must be free of foreign influence but "adapt to China," a euphemism for obeying the Communist Party's rule.
Give a thought to all the other countries in the complex world who adhere to their own traditions, either forcefully (like China) or of their own persuasion.
How do you celebrate Christmas?