As well as there being lots of Christians and lots of churches here, I think the Taiwanese also like any excuse for some decoration, celebration and a bit of fun. Unfortunately, this doesn't stretch to any time off school at Christmas..... but fortunately Christmas is on a Sunday this year!
It all started about four weeks ago when I went into the school library to find a dozen mothers sitting around sewing Christmas stockings. Of course, I wanted to lend a hand so after being reminded how to do blanket stitch, which I had last done about 40 years ago at primary school, I sewed a few stockings myself. They were for the children to decorate in break time (a sneaky ploy devised to encourage even the least literary children to come into the library) and take home just before Christmas.
Many children duly stormed excitedly into the library in the intervening weeks to complete their task and currently the stockings festoon the walls. The children take them home on Friday, and miraculously a few sweets will appear in them in the intervening time.
Then one night we came home after Taikwondo class in the dark, to find the grounds of our apartment block lit up with Christmas lights.
This is the swing seat at the back entrance to the block where Conrad and I sometimes sit and swing at the end of a long day. We don't usually sit for too long because the area is also a mosquito breeding ground. One night I was at the security guard's office talking to him and the cleaner at the same time as constantly batting away the mosquitoes swarming around my head.
"Oh, they aren't big ones," the cleaner remarked, dismissively.
Finally, last night we went to the district around Taipei 101 to pick up some Christmas cards and wrapping paper, and to see the Christmas tree at the Hyatt hotel. The city streets were prettily decorated.
Here's the Christmas tree at the Hyatt:
As we approached, one of the many doormen opened a door for us and bowed politely as we entered. I took a few photos, then as we left the doorman ceremoniously let us out again.
"He knew we were oiks," Andy said, "and was glad to see us go, you know."
"I know," I said.