Dear MeiGui: Is Christmas a holiday or not?
Originally published in The China Post, 12/28/08
What’s with all this Christmas holiday hypocrisy? I’m really fed up!
I work in a kindergarten in Tienmu, and we spent the six weeks leading up to Christmas endlessly rehearsing for our school’s giant Christmas Eve performance. The owner even pressured me to come into to work on my own time to help the children practice their routines and decorate the school. She also expected me to dress up as Santa Claus, because to quote her words: “You are a fat white man just like him.” According to her, it was my responsibility to help the children celebrate Christmas since I am a foreigner. Well, it was a hell, but I took it for the kids’ sake
In the meantime, I also began to prepare for my own Christmas day festivities; I think I single-handedly bought out Costco. I was planning for a big feast at my place. But guess what? Christmas Day isn’t a holiday in Taiwan.
When I heard this, I asked my boss if I could have the day off anyway, as I had already spent a lot of money preparing for my party. I didn’t think it would be a problem, but she turned me down flat saying: “Christmas is a foreign holiday – not a Taiwan holiday. How can you expect a day-off?”
What’s wrong with her thinking? Either Christmas is a big holiday or it isn’t.
-- Fuming in Tienmu
Officially speaking, it isn’t. December 25th used to be a public holiday in Taiwan to recognize the signing of the Constitution of the Republic of China in 1947. It had nothing to do with Christmas, although many people in Taiwan had come to celebrate the day as Christmas. Then in 2001 to cut back on the number of legal holidays, the Legislative Yuan abolished it.
There were many unsubstantiated rumors at the time that the axing of this holiday was actually pushed by DPP lawmakers who resented recognizing the constitution and foreign holidays.
Personally, Christmas and final year graduation performances are the reason I refuse to work in kindergartens. I feel your pain.
-- Borrowed culture has its limits, MeiGui
My girlfriend continuously insists on me buying her presents. We work at the same company in HsinChu and started dating last January. Since then, she has found every excuse in the book to demand I buy her gifts. She has expected that I give her gifts on Western Valentine’s Day, Lunar Lovers Day, Dragon Boat Festival; and during Chinese New Year, she expected something new every day.
But the topper has been Christmas. She wouldn’t stop singing that ridiculous Christmas carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for the entire month of December. Let me tell you, I’m not even a Christian. My family originally came from Calcutta, and they are devote Hindus.
Now with New Year’s Eve only a few days away, my credit card and I are living in fear. What to do? Do banks give short-term loans to foreigner workers in Taiwan?
-- Going Bankrupt in HsinChu
Dear Going Bankrupt;
I thought everything in HsinChu had to do with computers. What type of business does your company do? There aren’t scantily clad girls walking through the halls with trays of drinks, are there?
Chuck this chick before your credit card company chucks you.
-- Material worlds create material girls, MeiGui