You get to choose one gift — no price restrictions — for any person you want. The caveat? You have to give it anonymously. What gift would you give, and to whom?
Today I will not write about me or my choice. Instead I am going to share the story of original secret Santas who create the gifts for us anonymously.
Christmas is already knocking on the door and everybody is super busy for the preparation. Gifts are ready with colourful wraps. Santa and reindeers are also ready to visit us. But do we know where they come from?
When my brother was young he used to ask me pointing at the miniature Santas arranged in the shop, “Where is Santa’s home and workshop for making gifts for children?”
“It is in the north pole,” that used to be my prompt reply.
“Only one workshop?” My brother seemed puzzled. “How all the children get the toys then?”
“Didn’t I tell you there are many elves who work very fast throughout the year?”
“The elves, yes I know that. What will Santa give me this year?” my brother seemed exited.
After that many winters have passed. My brother does not ask about the whereabouts of red clad miniature Santa anymore. Neither do I think about it. But a small news in our local daily attracted my attention today. My little brother was right. Santa has more than one workshop and they are not in the north pole. The real workshops are situated at a village called Yiwu, about 300 km away from Shanghai city in China. The Yiwu village is known as the ‘Christmas Village.’ And what is the colour of the workshop? Yes you got it right, it is all red. Red floors, red ceilings, even the curtains are red.
I was amazed to know the fact that about 60 percent of the world’s total decorations for Christmas are made inside the 600 workshops that are spread across the village. There are no real elves to speed up the process. The workers are mainly migrant labourers who work up to 12 hours continuously. They make variety of things including mini Santa Claus, red stockings, shoes, red hats, Christmas trees and even LED lights for decoration.
They work so hard to bring that special smile on our face on Christmas day but they do not have a clear idea about what Christmas is.
“Maybe it’s like (Chinese) New Year for foreigners, says Wei, a 19 year old worker from a workshop at Yiwu. Wei and his father migrated from rural Guizhou to this place in search of a job that offers comparatively good pay. Wei and his father wear around 10 masks every day while working in the workshop to save themselves from the crimson red powder that is used to colour the decorative items. This is the reason behind the red attire of the whole workshop. The dust can cause acute bronchitis if it enters the windpipe. The working condition is not good and they plan to return to their home and never come back again to the workshop, once they have earned enough money.
The items are taken to Yiwu International Trade Market which is labelled as “largest small commodity wholesale market” by UN. The mini Santas start their journey all around the globe from this place. When a child looks at the red clad Santa and smiles, it is possible the reason behind that smile is one of the workers at Yiwu Christmas Village. The workers are the secret Santas for the children all around the world. But somehow I feel sad because of the poor working condition the workers have to deal with to make us smile. They deserve better than this because they bring hope and happiness to us. I just pray for their happiness.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays!