Christmas in Hangzhou

December 1866 saw the new CIM missionaries (known as the Lammermuir Party) settling into their first premise in No. 1 New Lane in Hangzhou. Having arrived unobtrusively a month earlier, their goal was to lay low so as not to cause any disturbances. Hudson Taylor shared their hope that, “remaining as quiet and unobserved as possible (would) win the confidence of the people, as the first step towards admission and welcome into their homes.”

Sure enough, seeing these foreigners speak their language while eating and dressing like natives, helped the Chinese feel more at home with them. Within a month, the Lammermuir Party saw their new neighbours attending prayer meetings and services in the lodging, and some of the new missionaries even received invites to read with them!

Photo by: David Beale on Unsplash

Christmas approached. For a taste of home, the missionaries decorated their newly established private cubicles. As a treat, they also donned their “barbarian dress” once again and used western cutlery for a truly English Christmas feast. “Hudson Taylor ordered ‘many surprises’ for his CIM family. This included two pheasants, two haunches of venison (all cheap and plentiful), a very good plum pudding and two fruit pies.”

While the Chinese in Hangzhou did not celebrate or even know about Christmas, the willingness of the Lammermuir Party to adapt to the local way of living created an openness to appreciate the cultural exchange that came to the house at No 1. New Lane that December.
December 1867 marked the first full year for the CIM team in China as a Mission. In the past year, Hudson Taylor and his team faced many challenges, but also many blessings. Their premises had expanded to two buildings and were now equipped with printing presses and contained an industrial school for women as well as a boy’s school.
While the work of the Mission had kept the team busy and apart throughout the year, the upcoming Christmas season meant uniting again over food, celebrations and worshiping together as one body.

Two of the Lammermuir Party, Mary Bell and William Rudland were wed on Christmas Day that year. Following the wedding party, the CIM Missionaries at New Lane unpacked the boxes sent to them by family and friends at home. An excerpt recorded about the humorous celebrations that year reads: “There was something for everyone. A Christmas pudding, moldy and needing to be pared away until good pudding was found (a displaced paperweight had somehow sunk into it). Hammers and other tools were powdered with sherbet. Broken jam pots compounded the mess. Keys had been kept from rusting by sardine oil leaking over them.”

However Christmas might look for you this year, we pray that you may be filled with the joy and peace of the Lord wherever you are. As we reflect on the gifts that God has given us over the last year, would you share his gift of love to your neighbor this season?

*Quotes and source from A.J. Broomhall’s The Shaping of Modern China: Hudson Taylor’s Life and Legacy, 2005.

Share on Facebook
Share on X
Share on LinkedIn