There’s a town in Yiwu, China, that manufactures 60 percent of the world’s Christmas decorations, including that red and white Santa hat you’re probably wearing while you read this.
If you still think Christmas is fashioned by rosy-cheeked elves, it’s time to wake up. Sure, it’s nice to imagine, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
The town is often referred to as “Christmas Village” because of the vast amount of holiday-related merchandise crafted there.
There are around 600 factories in the region, where workers labor away on 12 hour shifts, six days a week, for only 70 cents an hour.
Inside these factories, decorations of every kind are assembled by hand, usually in horrible conditions.
When BBC reporter Tim Maughan visited Yiwu this summer, here’s how he explained his experience.
I watch a girl sew white fur trim on to red felt at the rate of about two hats a minute, and as she finishes each one she simply pushes them off the front of her desk where they fall, silently, onto an ever increasing pile on the floor.
Upstairs is the plastic molding room, mainly staffed by young men, stripped to the waist because of the heat… The men feed plastic pellets from Samsung-branded sacks into machines to be melted down, and then pressed into molds to make toy snowmen and Father Christmases.
Needless to say, these images of Chinese Christmas workers are shocking.
To see these locals at work, you can also check out the below video, which was created by Unknown Fields Division and photographer Toby Smith.
All images: AP/Yang Guang