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    Chinese Christians Celebrate Christmas with Church Mass


    by NTDTelevision

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    Chinese Christians flock to church mass on Christmas eve in Beijing. Even though Christmas is not an official holiday in atheist China, shops got into the Christmas spirit with decorations and discounts.

    Hundreds of Catholic followers and the plain curious flocked to a traditional evening mass on Christmas Eve on Saturday at Beijing's biggest Cathedral.

    China and the Vatican severed ties more than 50 years ago and only around 25 million people in the world's most populous nation are Christians.

    Christianity spread for centuries in China before the Communists took power in 1949, closing churches and throwing out foreign missionaries.

    During China's decade-long Cultural Revolution that began in 1966, many churches were burned and relics smashed.

    But in recent years, Christianity has gradually flourished, even though the authorities keep tight control on religion, banning all church activities held without state organization.

    Kang Le, who converted to Christianity, hopes attending Christmas mass will bring her luck in the New Year.

    [Kang Le, Christian]:
    "I am a Christian. I am here to attend the mass because I hope to have Jesus' blessing and have good luck next year."

    Even though Christmas is not an official festival in atheist China, the holiday excitement attracted many visitors to experience the foreign culture.

    [Zhou Shu, Visitor]:
    "I am here to pray and to make a wish for myself. I want to talk about my wish in front of a foreign god at Christmas. I hope it can come true."

    Streets in Beijing were lit up with Christmas decorations and large trees, while shops promoted Christmas discounts in efforts to add to the spree.