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
Originally published in the hard copy version only of The China Post, 12/29/08