It’s Christmas Eve in Beijing, and while the Christian holiday is not officially acknowledged by the atheistic party-state that rules China, it is celebrated by increasing numbers of Chinese people. Like Halloween and Valentine’s Day, Christmas is heavily promoted by malls, restaurants, bars and nightclubs; it’s another excuse to go out and consume (an activity endorsed, coincidentally, by the Communist Party’s economic platform).
Christmas Eve or 平安夜 is perhaps the most festive of these holidays, at least in Beijing, where the numbers of people venturing into the winter’s night to enjoy the revelries by eating and drinking can create traffic snarl-ups. As there are a number of international-style bars and restaurants on the west side of Chaoyang Park 朝阳公园, the local Neighbourhood Committee declared special traffic arrangements in order to avoid gridlock and accidents in the area. The following notice was posted in local residential buildings and shops:
With the approach of Christmas 2012, in order to ensure the orderly and smooth flow of traffic and to generate a good festive atmosphere for all to enjoy, from 16:00 on 24 December to 02:00 on 25 December, the traffic authorities will implement temporary traffic restrictions near Chaoyang Park and prohibit left turns and U-turns on streets around the Park.
We would appeal to the broad masses of residents for their understanding and cooperation for any inconvenience that this may result in. (Click on the image-panel of the announcement to see an enlargement.)
The announcement is similar to a Xinhua report about traffic on Christmas eve in Beijing that was widely republished by news portals and in newspapers:
Some areas in Beijing may experience peak-hour traffic conditions up until midnight. Commercial districts, bar streets, places with a concentration of entertainment and dining venues and areas around some churches may experience traffic jams.
The Beijing Public Secruity Bureau announced forecast peak-traffic conditions from 4pm on 24 December. Such conditions may last a a long time, as late as 11pm in areas with concentrations of bars and restaurants. (Source: 北京圣诞交通晚高峰将明显延长.)
Normal levels of evening congestion were expected for Boxing Day, 26 December, Mao Zedong’s birthday.