Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

Well, sorry for the long hiatus in blogging, but it was nice to just have a little break and relax for the holidays. Hope everyone also had a restful and safe holidays (of whatever you celebrate–or not!). I just arrived back in the US yesterday, and after another 14 hour flight I gotta admit I’m pretty jet-lagged today.

My Christmas was pretty interesting. In China, the native people swarm to American or western restaurants like Starbucks or KFC, so our initial plan to have a quick dinner at Papa John’s pizza was de-railed when we saw the line out the door. I was secretly happy because i didn’t want to go there anyway (go to get pizza in China? Crazy!) So we walked a little further and found a Taiwanese restaurant that had some poor Chinese guy dressed as Santa Claus manning the front door. I felt a little uneasy about the whole over-the-top display of Christmas spirit–i mean, the waiters and waitresses had on reindeer antlers and the music was all western holiday songs. The dinner was fantastic–almost all food in Suzhou is excellent (look below at my fruit salad!)–but it was hard to miss the irony of situation.


The decorations in this restaurant were not unique in China. Every store, cafe, walkway, hotel, park, and condo building was decked out in huge inflatable santas, ubiquitous seasonal music, Christmas trees, and the like. And this excessive ‘Christmas-ification’ of China was pissing off some Chinese PhD students, according to China Daily’s story entitled ‘PhD Students say “No” to Christmas’ (alternate page here).

Ten doctoral students from three of China’s top universities have posted an online petition slamming local Christmas celebrations and calling on people to “resist Western cultural invasion,” state media said on Friday.

The students from the elite Peking, Tsinghua and People’s universities railed against “American and European culture” expanding throughout China along with “their technological and economic domination,” the China Daily said.

“Occidental culture has been more like storms sweeping through the country rather than mild showers,” the paper quoted the petition — dated with China’s traditional lunar calendar — as saying.

It was a “failure on the part of the government to maintain Chinese traditions, while encouraging the economy.

The authors criticized retailers for using the festival to boost business and local people for reveling without knowing the origin of the occasion, the paper said.

One astute commenter said ‘Don’t you know Santa Claus is Chinese? Where do you think all those toys and decorations are made?’

Anyway, happy holidays to all! 🙂


  1. #1 J-Dog
    December 28, 2006

    Welcome back! After you get un-lagged, you should read the recent history of the Dembski fart stories… The guy is such an idiot, but he is entertaining, in a train-wreck kind of way.

    In case you asked Santa for irony, my son’s Chineese friends went to Acapulco for the Holiday.

  2. #2 Angie
    December 28, 2006

    A few summers ago, I spent a month and a half living in a three star hotel in Qingdao. The whole time (part of June and all of July — but I have to guess that it’s there all year) there was a huge “Merry Christmas” sign out front, probably measuring around 30 feet long and 3 feet high. Oh, and this was on a university campus too. And I walked into at least one restaurant that summer with (really lame) Christmas decorations.

  3. #3 Katherine Sharpe
    December 28, 2006

    One astute commenter said ‘Don’t you know Santa Claus is Chinese? Where do you think all those toys and decorations are made?’

    LOL…and touche.

  4. #4 knobody
    December 29, 2006

    i find it highly amusing that while jews in america are flocking to chinese restaurants for christmas, chinese are flocking to american restaurants for christmas.

  5. #5 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 29, 2006

    Welcome back!

  6. #6 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    December 29, 2006

New comments have been disabled.