Merry Maomas everybody!

08:54, December 24, 2010      

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The Red Sun Choir performs at Beihai Park on October 18 last year. Photo: Benbenxiong

That Mao Zedong was born within a day of Jesus Christ is seen as no coincidence by some.

As the groundbreaking drama Che Guevara that debuted in Beijing 10 years ago states, "God found mankind lives in pain so he made Jesus to save them.

"It wasn't enough, so the next day he made Mao Zedong."

Other Mao fans have noted that due to the global time difference, December 25 in the West - by which they presumably mean Bethlehem - is actually December 26 in China.

"So it is indeed the same day and they were brothers," says Fan Jinggang, founder of Land of Utopia, a bookstore and website advocating the thoughts of Mao. "Poor people consider Mao as a savior and god."

Ten scholars famously released a statement urging a boycott of Christmas opposing the erosion of Chinese culture back in 2006.

"Chinese people join the Christmas carnival without knowing its origin … so that our own culture is overshadowed by the trend," it said.

Mao Xinyu has publicly commemorated his grandfather's birthday in recent years, even going so far as to suggest last year that the 26th should be a Chinese national holiday.

"I hope that Chinese can bear in mind the great leaders of China's founding and widely publicize their achievements and thoughts among the public in numerous ways," he reportedly said.

It's OK to commemorate Chairman Mao's 117th birthday but don't go around wishing people "Merry Maomas!" ("Maodanjie kuaile!") says Mao loyalist Cao Zhanjing, 56, who goes every Sunday to catch up with his friends among more than 1,000 middle-aged and elderly people gathered in circles in Jingshan Park (the Coal Hill Park) of Beijing.

Cao doesn't like the term "Maomas" because it's derived from Christmas, a Western term, but he sure likes singing red songs to accordion and drum accompaniment.

Ladies put on their best smiles while gentlemen warble with gusto to combat the icy winds that blow through this open area near the west door of a park about 200 meters north of the Forbidden City.

On the branch of a pine tree not far from where the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty hanged himself in 1644 hangs a new holy trinity: a portrait of Mao with a national flag and a Communist Party flag either side.

"How warm to see Chairman Mao again," says a woman in her 50s, looking at the portrait with heartfelt respect painted all over her face.

Elderly people socialize here in a free and easy manner, reminiscent of the "good old days."

"Compared to the holy god, it's understandable to consider Mao a saint to the Chinese people," says Cao, adding he'd never celebrate Christmas.
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