When Christmas approaches, Beijing dresses accordingly. Tinsel and plastic green garlands decorate shop and café counters, Christmas trees loom in hotel and office lobbies, and rosy-cheeked paper cutouts of Santa’s face decorate nearly every restaurant door. Yes, the city is well dressed, but how about you? Lifestyle went on a mission in search of classic Christmas clothing items – Santa hats, reindeer antlers and Christmas sweaters. Here’s where to look, and where not to bother.
Yashow: expecting more, finding little
I expected to find some novel holiday clothes in Yashow Market, one of the most popular clothing markets among expatriates and tourists, but was disappointed to find only one store on the fourth floor offering Santa hats and stockings, with nothing that particularly jumped out at me or my wallet.
Address: 58 Gongti Beilu, Chaoyang District
How to get there: Take bus No. 431, 113 or 758 to the Sanlitun stop.
Wantong: headband heaven
Many stores on the second floor of Wantong New World Shopping Mall, and one on the fourth floor, are selling Christmas home and personal decorations. They carry the standard Santa hats, plus an impressive selection of reindeer antler headbands (10 yuan). The bands are green, the antlers red, and the contrasting colors just holler, “Christmas! Joy!” Not literally, of course, though they do have little bells attached that ring when you shake your head.
Other, goofier headbands were decorated with different pairs: two snowmen, two Santas, even two lovely tigers to celebrate the impending Year of the Tiger. A shop owner explained, “The reindeer antler headband is quite popular among kids, especially girls. And of course, you can wear these to your Christmas parties. They’ll definitely make you the center of attention!” Actually the goods were not of good quality, but the antlers were so festive, I made the investment.
Address: No. 2 Fuchengmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District 西城区阜成门外大街2号
How to get there: Subway Line 2 to Fuchengmen Station.
Tianyi Market: where more choices require more patience
Most buses from Wantong go to Tianyi, one of the largest markets selling various petty commodities in Beijing. On the first floor, countless stores sell very similar Christmas items, such as antlers (more antlers!), Santa hats (ditto!) and wacky alternate Santa hat versions, such as ones in flashy yellow and one with a giant Santa face and, incongruously, two short braids hanging out the side. Efforts to speak to the shop owners were in vain, as all were distracted by talking to the many shoppers. Many customers were buying in bulk, stuffing black bags full of Christmas goodies and making it difficult to even get near the products. If you come here, you’ll need to bring plenty of patience and sharpen your bargaining skills (and elbows).
Address: No. 259 Fuchengmenwai Dajie, Xicheng District 西城区阜成门外大街259号
How to get there: Bus No. 101, 102, 103, 121, 15, 335, 37, 814, 603 or 732 to Fuwaixikou stop.
Beyond the markets, you can check name brand shops for additional seasonal wear. Eland is selling clothing festooned with red and green ribbons, ideal if you want to dress not unlike a Christmas tree. Jack Jones also has a sweater sported by many men around town, knitted with an awkward penguin facing forward on the front and an awkward penguin’s buttocks and tail on the back. One likes to think that the penguin’s character reflects on the wearer of the sweater. Why this sweater has been popular is anyone’s guess, but it stands a good chance of placing in an “ugly Christmas sweater” competition. Similarly, those looking to be seasonal should look for sweaters with small bears (or pandas, if you’re thinking more locally).
Source: By Chen Dujuan, Global Times