What does the inside of Santa’s Christmas Workshop look like? Like a sequin-covered slaughterhouse. The ornaments you hang on your tree and the stocking you sling near the chimney aren’t made at the North Pole by elves: as explained by the Guardian, they’re made in sweatshops in the Chinese city of Yiwu, about 180 miles from Shanghai.
Called “China’s Christmas Village,” Yiwu contains approximately 600 factories that between them are responsible for over 60% of the world’s Santa hats, Christmas stockings, styrofoam snowmen, glitter-covered ornaments, and so on. The workers of Yiwu earn just $300 a month, slaving 12 hours a day to create baubles for a holiday that they’ve barely heard of, in conditions that could charitably be called hellish.
The Guardian spoke to a 19-year-old worker named Wei about what it’s like working in Yiwu.
Together with his father, he works long days in the red-splattered lair, taking polystyrene snowflakes, dipping them in a bath of glue, then putting them in a powder-coating machine until they turn red–and making 5,000 of the things every day.
In the process, the two of them end up dusted from head to toe in fine crimson powder. His dad wears a Santa hat (not for the festive spirit, he says, but to stop his hair from turning red) and they both get through at least 10 face masks a day, trying not to breathe in the dust.
After the Christmas ornaments are constructed, they are driven in trucks to a labyrinthine exhibition center filled with four square miles of cheap holiday crap, which is then purchased in bulk by buyers and eventually shipped over to America. So if you’ve ever walked into a Christmas Tree Shop and silently breathed to yourself, “This place is hell on Earth,” rest assured, it’s not. It’s merely the gate to hell on Earth.
Read the full report at The Guardian.