In my last post, I mentioned how China imports a lot of American culture especially around Christmas. One of the most surprising transplanted Christmas traditions I have encountered while here is the work place “favorite” Secret Santa game.
It turns out that the entire Chinese staff in my program goes gaga for 秘密圣诞老人 (mi mi sheng dan lao ren – “Secret Santa” in Chinese). After Thanksgiving, all employees started receiving emails counting down to the start of the game and providing a detailed diagram giving rules for how to play. I was impressed with the PDF introduction below, especially as it was probably the best organizational flow chart I have ever seen in China. Everyone else must have agreed because in total about 30 people participated.
The diagram explains the game pretty well. After drawing names, everyone receives a special gift from their santa each day for one work week. The limit is 10-20 Yuan ($2-3) per day. On Wednesday, everyone has to guess who their Secret Santa is by leaving a small note. On Friday, there is the last gift giving and great Secret Santa unveiling. The days in between are filled with intrigue and maneuvering to try to figure out the pairings.
Many thanks to my Secret Santa and to the Chinese staff for making this game a lot of fun again.