Working holiday: China's 'Christmas Village'

Source: Published: 2014/12/10 15:44:40

  • Wei's Christmas cap and goggles rest on a table as he breaks for lunch. Wei and his family will return to their hometown after the factory closes on December 25, Christmas Day. Probably, they will not return to the factory. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Pictured is a former Christmas products factory on the Yongjun Road, Yiwu, where a fire broke out in October. According to the factory's owner, most of his stock had been sold before the fire occurred. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A freight train loaded with containers pulls out of Yiwu West Railway Station on December 5, 2014 on the newly-built Yiwu-Xinjiang-Europe line. According to Cai Qinliang, deputy head of the Yiwu Christmas Products Association, sales this year were average. Although overseas orders dropped, there was an increase in domestic sales. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A buyer from India purchases Christmas decorations in the Futian market. The customer purchased 50,000 yuan ($8, 050) in ornaments for a hotel. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A shop owner takes a nap in her Christmas decorations store in Zone No. 2 of the Futian Market in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province. Some shop owners said sales this year dipped compared to last year. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Young students gather around an ornament maker surnamed Gao and his sax-playing Santa Claus statue outside his shop. Gao, 50, makes around 40 of the statues each day with his wife. Gao said they have made less this year and now they take occasional online orders. Most parents of the students also work in nearby factories. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A vendor rides his motorcycle loaded with Christmas decorations in Zone No. 2 of the Futian Market, also known as the "Christmas Village of China." Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Wei (middle) eats lunch with his wife and son. Wei's wife, who works in the installation department, normally heads home first to prepare lunch for the family. Wei said the family might not stay with the factory next year, because the work is too hard. They are planning to return to their hometown after saving enough money for their sons. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Junior Wei takes a smoke break at noon. He said he plans to buy some nice clothes for himself before returning home during the Spring Festival to show his former schoolmates how well he is doing. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Colorful decorations are stored on shelves in the factory. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Junior Wei leaves the workshop after finishing his morning work. He said he makes sure to be clean before leaving the workshop. But since he doesn't have time to get a haircut, his hair always has traces of red powder. "Well, I just see it as hair dye," he said.

  • Before lunch, Wei dusts himself off with an airbrush. Wei wears a Christmas hat to prevent the powder from getting in his hair. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A pair of small speakers that Junior Wei uses to play music while working are, much like the walls, coated in the powder residue. Junior said music is his only pastime since he does not have a social networking account. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Junior Wei pauses for a rest in the workshop around noon. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Wei dusts himself off after exiting the drying room. The 60-square meter workshop is completely covered with red powder. Any that falls on the floor is eventually recycled. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Junior Wei tries to clean the red powder on his hands after removing his gloves. When asked about what Christmas means, he wasn't quite sure. "Maybe it's the new year's celebration for foreigners," he said. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A respirator mask covered in red dye is left at the workshop. Wei and his son each go through five masks while spraying more than 5,000 star decorations in a single day. "We are not so busy these days since there are only some scattered orders. The busiest days are before September," said Wei. The bulk orders for European markets are usually delivered before September. The factory receives small domestic orders beginning in December. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Wei records the number of items he process on a wall. Wei works more than 10 hours a day, starting from 7:00 am. He earns around 3,000 yuan ($485) a month. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Wei said he isn't quite sure as to exactly what it is he produces. He is only clear of the process: soak shaped foam in glue for three seconds, then place them in a mechanical sprayer to be coated with decorative red powder. The whole process takes about 10 seconds. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Wei's younger son, 19, works with his father applying the powdery red finish to Christmas decorations. He left school at 17 years old. He sometimes brags to his former classmates about his salary or the beautiful girls working with him at the factory. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A worker surnamed Wei, 38 of Guizhou Province, checks star decorations laid out on drying racks. Wei used to work at a sand plant in his hometown before a fellow villager told him about the better opportunities in Yiwu. Wei, along with his wife and two sons, began work in the factory early this year, some 1,800 kilometers away from home. Wei said he caught a cold recently due to the temperature difference in the drying room. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • A worker sprays a powdery red coating on snowflake ornaments at a Christmas products factory in Fotang town, Yiwu, Zhejiang Province, on December 4, 2014. The ground is covered with a layer of the adhesive coating. Photo: Chen Ronghui

  • Christmas decorations are displayed outside a shop at the Futian Market in Yiwu, Zhejiang Province on December 4, 2014. The city has been dubbed the "Christmas Village of China" for its 600 factories which manufacture millions of Christmas decorations every year. The city produces 60 percent of the world's Christmas ornaments. Photo: Chen Ronghui

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