BEIJING, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- As the subway rolled into Qianmen Station, Christmas carols played in the corridor. Outside the station, visitors to the Mao's mausoleum in Tian'anmen Square were queuing up for security checks.
The mausoleum opened in 1977, one year after Mao passed away. On Thursday, a ceremony will be held to commemorate his 120th anniversary.
Behind the gate, a stall sells white chrysanthemums for 3 yuan (0.49 U.S. dollars) each.
In the dim interior of the building visitors fall silent. A little boy asked quietly as he passed by Chairman Mao, "Daddy, where is the gift Father Christmas gave me this morning?"
His father hushed him, with a smile on his face. It was Christmas. Nearby shopping malls and hotels have put up Christmas trees.
The excursion around the mausoleum was short, no more than two minutes. souvenir shops at both sides of the road leading to the exit were sell pens, statues, silk paintings, pocket watches, all that featuring Mao's portrait.
"You can't find anything like ours in any other places, high quality at lowest prices," said a saleswoman.
The prices have suffered little from inflation in the past 30 years, but the visitors have changed.
"Most visitors were group travelers and citizens in the past, but now I see more people from the countryside," said a lady who took paid photos for visitors. "They are better off these days. They are willing to spend 10 yuan on a photo with the building and themselves in it."
People sat on a bench not far from the exit were from a northwestern village, and had come all the way just to pay a visit to Chairman Mao, but they did not know tomorrow was his birthday.
A newly-wed couple from central Hunan, Mao's birthplace, came to the mausoleum knowing his birthday was the next day.
"We have chosen to spend our honeymoon in Beijing, partly because our parents wanted us to. They've always wished to visit their 'folk'," said the husband Li Huaiming.
Pierre Blanc, a foreign expert teaching in Beijing's Tsinghua University, invited his family and friends from France to spend the holiday in China.
"It is a very special Christmas, and we'd like to pay a visit to the symbolic leader of the country," Pierre said.
When informed that Mao's anniversary was the next day, Pierre said it was an even better opportunity for reunions with family members, friends, the great man and his countrymen.