Giant holiday displays are taking over malls throughout Asia A mall in Jakarta created a huge Christmas display out of Legos. (MAST IRHAM/epa/Rachen Sageamsak/Xinhua Press/Corbis)
Giant holiday displays are taking over malls throughout Asia
Lexile

At the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur mall in Malaysia is a Christmas tree. It towers 75 feet over holiday shoppers. But its height isn't the most interesting thing about it. Nor is the fact that it's the first of its kind at the mall. Rather, the secret is in its sparkles. It's made of 175,000 glittering Swarovski crystals. These are separated into 3,100 six-and-a-half-foot strands and valued at about $700,000. A nightly snowstorm at the mall's winter garden entrance adds to the luxurious holiday ambience.
 
The over-the-top tree took about six months to go from conception to creation. It is just one of hundreds of similar displays at shopping malls across east Asia. There, Christmas fever has taken over with force. Asian shoppers' hunger for all things holiday isn't necessarily about Christmas itself. Indeed, the region's main religions are Hindu, Islam and Buddhism. Rather, Christmas' appeal to mallgoers seems to lie in a local love for shopping malls. And, there is an overwhelming desire to celebrate.
 
"Shoppers in Asia yearn for a unique experience each time there is a festival celebration," notes Joyce Yap. She is CEO of retail at Pavilion Kuala Lumpur. She spoke to Smithsonian.com. Yap says that people tend to plan gatherings and outings at malls. They celebrate festive occasions like Christmas. She says that social media also fuels a growing demand for highly attractive holiday displays. More than half of global social media users are in the Asia Pacific region.
 
Malls in Asia are increasingly becoming mega-destinations. They include movie theaters, banks, restaurants, bars, bowling alleys, zoos and more. In Malaysia alone, shopping centers encompass 100 million square feet and about $33 billion in real estate value. Eight of the world's top 10 malls are in Asia. So it's a logical place to get into the holiday spirit in extravagant style.

The displays are spectacular indeed. One mall in Tokyo had a Godzilla-shaped tree. It breathes smoke. A glittery display of trees and landscape lighting is out front. In recent years, Christmas mall displays in Hong Kong (for a century, a British colony) have included everything from two-story-tall polar bears to a Central Park-inspired indoor park. The latter included light-up bicycles and an entire Christmas town. It even had an Andy Warhol-themed display of soup cans. Shoppers in Malaysia have enjoyed a Christmas bazaar under a giant holiday dinner table. In addition, there have been gigantic hot air balloons, a sparkling indoor forest, a candy village, giant Lego displays, and a fairy-themed indoor town. In China, developers are even building a replica of Finland's famed SantaPark.
 
This obsession with Christmas decorating may also be partially related to the absorption of some aspects of American culture. Robert Foyle Huwick of The Atlantic writes that about 275,000 Chinese students participate in study abroad programs in the United States each year. They bring American Christmas traditions back with them. Those traditions combat solemn, serious traditional fetes with opportunities to party and shop. Expat culture also makes the holiday look pretty appealing. It is especially true in places like Hong Kong. It is home to over 300,000 expatriates. The holiday is celebrated across the region without religious context. Instead, it's an excuse for friends and family to get together and have a good time.
 
Given the grandeur of the continent's many Christmas celebrations - and the widely reported death of the traditional American shopping mall - there's perhaps never been a better time to head to an east Asian shopping mall. Visitors can receive a dose of outrageous good cheer.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is it so easy to export the Christmas tree concept?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (16)
  • jessiec-ver
    12/19/2016 - 08:02 a.m.

    Malls in Asia create fantastic and beautiful displays for Christmas. One tree has 175,000 crystals. People want to shop with Christmas fever, celebrate traditions, get together with family and friends.

  • davidz1-gru
    12/19/2016 - 10:34 a.m.

    This is a beautiful! These are the best decorations I've ever seen!

  • samanthas-1-ste
    12/19/2016 - 01:08 p.m.

    The Christmas tree concept is all over the world. I love these displays, especially when they are all lit up and creative.

  • aidanv-arl
    12/19/2016 - 07:14 p.m.

    People come here and study to take back ideas about Christmas.

  • jadenr1-har
    12/20/2016 - 12:45 p.m.

    It is so easy because a lot of people want them. It is lower than 3,100six-and-a-half-foot and most of the trees are smaller than 3,100. Most of the trees want to be in a house.It is home to over 300,000 expatriates. Most of the world's top 10 malls are in Asia so that’s where most of the trees are.

  • jamariw-orv
    12/21/2016 - 11:25 a.m.

    i think christmas is highly overrated

  • hayleel-ste
    1/05/2017 - 12:33 p.m.

    Personally, I love Christmas just because I love going around or driving down the road seeing the houses all lit up. Its a beautiful time of the year these displays are stunning.

  • jacklynt-ste
    1/05/2017 - 08:52 p.m.

    This is awesome! I love looking at Christmas displays. Going to a mall and seeing more than just the usual Santa set up would be more interesting.

  • loganf1-bur
    1/06/2017 - 11:11 a.m.

    The reason is because the Christmas tree concept is all over the world. I love these dis plays, especially when they are all lit up and there on that display shining so bright. It all just so pretty.

  • morganfl-smi
    1/06/2017 - 01:27 p.m.

    The Christmas tree concept is all over the world. Especially when they are all lit up and creative.

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