Christmas in Hong Kong meant something else this year: the 70th anniversary of the fall of Hong Kong, otherwise known as Black Christmas.
Fighting broke out on December 8, 1941 and ended with British Hong Kong surrendering to the Japanese on Christmas Day 70 years ago–in the Peninsula Hotel, which was renamed the Toa (or East Asia) during the remainder of the war.
You can read about Black Christmas in a number of books, both old and new. I just received notice that my copy of Tim Luard’s Escape from Hong Kong (Hong Kong University Press, 2011) is currently on a boat sailing from the UK to the US. I should receive it in a few weeks.
Another historical account can be found in Philip Snow’s The Fall of Hong Kong (Yale University Press, 2004).
And then there’s Emily Hahn’s memoir, China to Me (Country Life Press, 1944), in which she writes with vivid detail about the turmoil in WWII Hong Kong.
Some novels that include Black Christmas include Eileen Chang’s Love in a Fallen City (New York Review Books, 2006). Although the story is fiction, Chang studied in Hong Kong 70 years ago and was an eyewitness to the Black Christmas.
And then more recently, Janice Y.K. Lee’s debut novel, The Piano Teacher (Penguin, 2009), incorporates Black Christmas into her moving story of love, loss, and betrayal in 1941 and 1951 Hong Kong.
I know it’s not a cheery topic during this joyous time of year. But it’s important to Hong Kong’s history and the people who remember that very difficult time. Just as they’ve done during other crises, the people of Hong Kong prevailed.