CHRISTMAS in Asia is certainly not an afterthought; you’ll just need to comb the streets of major cities to see why.
Neon lights hang from trees, cut-out reindeer suspend from utility poles, garish signs flicker through the night, temporary wreath-adorned archways are constructed, and glittery Christmas trees tower above multi-story buildings.
In some cities, it’s as much a commercial holiday as it is a cultural and religious one. Stores capitalize on the shopping spirit with end-of-year sales, packaged Christmas sets, and an endless supply of holiday-themed paraphernalia. In many stores, Christmas jingles play on loop.
The malls are as good a place as any to catch the Christmas bug. Oftentimes, it’s the time of year where the cities’ major malls compete to out-decorate each other with giant displays and as many lights to generate a small town.
For example, in Kuala Lumpur, shoppers and tourists can be seen snapping photos of the displays outside and in the lobby of Pavilion Kuala Lumpur along Jalan Bukit Bintang. Last year, a 75-meter Christmas tree was fitted at the mall’s winter garden entrance, and the tree was fitted with 175,000 Swarovski crystals.
The tree was valued at about US$700,000 and took six months to go from conception to creation. Each crystal was painstakingly separated into 3,100 six-and-a-half-foot strands.
Along Orchard Road in Singapore, a yearly light-up event is organized to officiate the street’s Christmas get-up. The shopping belt comes alive in hues of blue, turquoise, and sapphire, and is accompanied by performances, gift stalls, and food trucks.
Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) chairman Mark Shaw told Straits Times, “The purpose of the Orchard Road light-up isn’t just to drive spending. It’s also to bring the Christmas spirit to Orchard Road.”
Meanwhile, in Tokyo, Christmas lights are taken very seriously. Major shopping and tourist areas like Roppongi Hills, Shinjuku Terrace City, and Tokyo Tower are illuminated in shiny bursts of sparkle come December.
Here’s proof that Asia tends to go big for Christmas.