Viral Christmas joke reflects trending social problems

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 December, 2013, 7:51pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 December, 2013, 8:00pm

Although most Chinese had to keep working on Christmas Day, while most other people around the world could take time off to relax and be with family, most internet users decided to make the best of it and satirise the occasion, which is a non-public holiday in China.

“According to reliable sources: Santa Claus has fallen to the ground when travelling to China due to the murky air pollution," read one widely posted joke.

"He has since still being lying on the snowy ground as no one dares to help him up. All of the presents on him have been plundered, while his sleigh and reindeers were seized by the Chengguan [city management officials]. As a result this year’s Christmas holiday is called off.”

The message might seem cliche elsewhere in the world, but it created much buzz and proved to be popular among Chinese netizens since Christmas Eve.

The joke was also clever as it summed up some of the most significant news in the country over the past few years: worsening air pollution that has been cloaking cities or frequent cases of bystanders being reluctant to lend a hand to elders who fall to the ground.

Other issues are the arrogant urban management enforcers prone to resort to violence to confiscate goods from illegal hawkers and crowds that loot car accident scenes of debris and belongings.

Perhaps this not-so-funny joke on Santa reflects the public discontent towards these burning social issues, which have often come up in the news in recent months, often sparking uproar and public scrutiny.

When Santas meet "thugs”

Meanwhile, a video clip circulating on the internet on Wednesday showed how a charity event quickly turned ugly.

In the video, said in the caption to be recorded on Tuesday in Luoyang, Henan province, a group of about 20 young men and women dressed in Santa costumes were seen handing out cup noodles, tissues and snacks as gifts to passersby. The volunteers looked like they were university students.

But suddenly, they were surrounded by aggressive, "thug-like" passersby who demanded more free food and would not let them pass.

The crowd, mostly middle-aged men and women, were seemingly ravenous for a “free lunch”, and brazenly reached into the young men’s plastic bags, attempting to empty them. One woman who could barely carry several snacks and a cup noodle in one arm rudely asked for more.

The helpless Santas tried everything to break away from the mob, with their charity goods intact. One young girl was allowed to leave only after she burst into tears.

In one scene, a man seemingly in his 50s attempted to grab the bag of gifts from a young volunteer. He eventually let go of the volunteer, who ran away with whatever he could.

At one point, a middle-aged man went up to the camera and pointed to a cup noodle and two packs of tissues that he had grabbed from the Santas. He then had the audacity to complain that he could “only grab a little”.