One Hundred and Forty-one Shanghai Christmas Trees

[NOTE: Shanghai Scrap will be offline until December 28. Happy holidays!]

Had an email the other day from my old friend (and former editor), Julie Caniglia of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. In passing, she wondered if I was going to do a post on “Chinese Xmas kitsch.” It hadn’t occurred to me, but I started thinking and on Saturday I wrote to tell her that I would take a photo of every Shanghai Christmas tree that I saw between then and Christmas Eve. It was no small task: Shanghai has gone Christmas crazy in recent years, with trees, wreaths, and neon Merry Christmas greetings popping up all over the place. Little to none of it is religiously-oriented, mind you, but it is festive and seasonable and sometimes I need to remind myself that this is, after all, Shanghai.

Anyway, by this evening – the 23rd – I’d taken more than 100 photos and – despite my promise to keep going until the 24th – I realized that I had exceeded my own modest expectations, and it was time to post.

So, without further ado (except for a few comments along the way), I give you the one hundred and forty-one Shanghai Christmas trees that I encountered between December 18 and December 23. In order.

One hundred and forty more Shanghai Christmas trees, after the jump!

Beer bottle tree. That is, a Christmas tree built from Heineken bottles.

The sorry looking tree in the photo below is stationed outside of a Yongjia Road bar, where it has been picked nearly clean of its ornaments. This is a phenomenon that we will see repeated with other outdoor Shanghai Christmas trees.

The two images below feature another example of the aforementioned denuded outdoor Christmas tree. These are stationed on opposite sides of a shopping mall entrance. The fact that the lower sections of the trees are mostly bare suggests to me that they were attacked by small children.

Looney Tunes Tree. Below, a rather stark tree located outside of a shopping mall that houses a Looney Tunes store. Note the Tasmanian Devil “Wipe Out” signs to the right.

Multicultural Tree. The lovingly decorated tree belonging to an American-Shanghainese couple, and their son.

Totalitarian Tree. Below, the hand of the mad Häägen Däzs employee who tried to prevent me from photographing the store tree, and then evicted me from the store (more on this, here). For the record: Häägen Däzs lacks the spirit of the season.

Cinema Tree. Below, a tree decorated with playing cards bearing the faces of Chinese movie stars.

Below, the gigabyte-sponsored tree in Xujiahui. Looks a whole lot like the Longines tree outside of Jing’an Temple – coming shortly …

Below, the Longines tree at Jing’an Temple, which looks a whole lot like the Gigabyte tree in Xujiahui, a few trees above.

Creepy Topiary Tree. Stationed outside of a shopping mall, this bear stands as the freakiest tree that I encountered.

Final Tree. Taken this evening in a barber shop off Baoding Road in Hongkou District, this photo is my favorite, and a good place to stop. To the left of the tree you’ll note a mirror and a little boy receiving a shampoo in advance of a haircut.


  1. My favorite is the light sculpture in the basement of Ganghui – but not technically a Christmas tree so guess it didn’t make the cut.

    The denuded trees remind me of my own 15 minutes after I decorate it: I have a bad case of cat. Followed by a loud thump from upstairs as it topples. I have come to think of Christmas trees as giant cat toys.

  2. I’m unsure if you photographed the one outside Plaza 66. My eye was drawn not to any xmas tree but the elegant rose. There is something to be said about a discerning eye for uncliched aesthetics!

  3. The Rolex ones were especially classy. This looks like a fun little project. It is difficult to tell from your photos, but was any one of them very pretty or well-done? Looks like a few were actually real trees even if they looked straggly.

  4. Debbie –

    Thanks for the nice comment. You’re right: the real trees were all kind of straggly, more bush-like than tree-like. Of the fake trees, I thought some of the five-star hotel trees were really quite nice.

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