Will you be my “zui aide” sweetheart…on Christmas: why Christmas is a romantic holiday in China and what it means for marketing and communications

Love is in the air…the lighted streets are decked with couples unabashedly linking arms and eyes…ah, romance…

[Insert sound of record scratching] Wait a minute! Aren’t we getting ahead of our holidays here? Valentine’s Day isn’t for another two months.

Au contrair, zui aide. This isn’t Valentine’s Day I’m talking about…it’s Christmas…in China. Here’s what one journalist writes about this in the That’s Beijing Blog:

For young lovers, Christmas is a holiday tinged with romance. According to the Wuhan Morning Post, Wan, an internet engineer, thought he had forever won the heart of his lover by presenting a heart-shaped candle to her on Christmas Eve several years ago. But this year, he feels nothing but morbid fear with the approach of Christmas. He explains, “She has became very hard to please, complaining that my [Christmas] plans are no longer romantic. One month before Christmas, she would ask me how we are going to celebrate it. She is driving me nuts.”

Just replace “Christmas” with “Valentine’s Day” and you’ve got a not-all-that uncommon scenario for some fellows over here — two months down the road, mind you. 😉

Read also this post on East Asia Watch, where a Wall Street Journal Article about Christmas in China dubs the trend “China’s Yuletide Revolution.”

It is indeed like a revolution, a modern-day “long march” of the couples — hardly a street corner on Christmas Eve is without a young couple merrily headed to an intimate dinner, a movie, or perhaps a private karaoke party.

It’s funny how holidays translate into other cultures. How did Christmas come to be so…[blushing]…romantic? Anecdotally, my Chinese friends used to say it was all of those Hollywood Christmas movies — with plenty of rings, proposals and kisses by the Christmas tree. Christmas Eve is, after all, one of the most popular times of the year for proposals — and those jewelry stores never let us forget it.

When it comes to marketing around Christmas in China, leaving out the romance might just make your target audience feel a little stood up.

If you’re running a restaurant, bar or hotel, dim those lights, bring out the candles and make those young lovers swoon. You could feature a special menu…bring in an especially romantic musical or theatrical act…or just throw a party in the name of love.

As for other services and products…who says you can’t get a little marketing mileage out of the festivities? Think about creative ways of acknowledging the holiday and helping your clients or audience turn up the heat for Christmas Eve. For example, if you’re selling a product, why not offer free chocolates or roses with a certain purchase? Professional services and those of us selling business-to-business can get in the fun by, say, organizing an evening of romantic events for your best clients and their spouses. Remember, people in China like to mix personal lives and business (something I’ll touch on more in future columns).

In the meantime, it’s Christmas — so will you be my “zui aide” sweetheart? 😉

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