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The Empress and Mrs. CongerThe Uncommon Friendship of Two Women and Two Worlds$
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Grant Hayter-Menzies

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083008

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083008.001.0001

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Christmas in Beijing

Christmas in Beijing

(p.66) (p.67) 7 Christmas in Beijing
The Empress and Mrs. Conger

Grant Hayter-Menzies

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter narrates Sarah Conger's Christmas experience in Beijing. Christian foreigners in Beijing were by no means bereft of Christmas trappings, yet it was still a holiday they had to make for themselves. In a letter home about her holiday, Sarah wrote to her sister about Christmas in China and how strangely familiar it seemed. She also describes how Christmas trees were decorated with many styles of most intricately cut paper people, animals, birds, bats, and flowers in colors. Not many foreign observers would have understood how the bat, that creature associated in the West with abandoned houses and graveyards, would find itself on a Christmas tree. But Sarah, perhaps because she was never able to grasp the written language itself, was an eager student of what she called the “language” of Chinese symbols. With Sarah's understanding of this “language” came a sense that she needed to protect it.

Keywords:   Sarah Conger, Christmas, Beijing, Christmas trees, Chinese symbols

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