Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Chinese Christmas

To get us in the festive mood we went to Nantang Cathedral (aka the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception), not far from Tiananmen Square. It was founded by the Italian Jesuit, Matteo Ricci 400 years ago; the present building dates from 1904. Interesting guy, Ricci: he mastered Chinese language and customs, co-wrote the first ever European-Chinese dictionary, and became an adviser to the Imperial Court on account of his scientific abilities. Nowadays, Christian worship is restricted to Government-sanctioned organizations. Depending on who you believe, there are about 50 million Christians in China now, 15m of which are Catholic. Anyway, the church was packed - mostly Chinese, but a fair smattering of westerners too. The interior was fairly standard, with the rather ugly addition of giant TV screens on either side of the nave.

Duty done, we got down to the business of opening presents and cooking dinner. Continuing the connection wth Rome, the girls got a Playmobil coliseum and galleon which yours truly took two hours to put together. Meanwhle Liz juggled turkey, veg, gravy etc so that all was ready at precisely the right time. I'm not sure which was more stressful.

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