There are “Christmas Villages” all over the U.S. — places bedecked with lights, where Santa and reindeer roam. But that moniker might really belong to a city in China called Yiwu. Located nearly 200 miles south of Shanghai, it might seem pretty far from the North Pole, yet it’s where over 60 percent of all Christmas decorations are made, according to the BBC.
This video by Toby Smith and Unknown Fields, a “nomadic design studio,” traces all those synthetic Santa hats, fake trees, and hand-painted holly berries back to their origin. It shows workers in front of fans (the video was filmed in the summer), hand-assembling and painting many of the goods. What doesn’t come through in the video is the chemical-y smell the BBC reporter says pervaded some of the rooms. The workers earn between $200 and $300 per month for their six-days-a-week, 12-hour-or-more shifts, the BBC reports.
In September, the factory switches gears for Easter and Valentine’s Day, then later becomes Halloween Town. Even in Christmas Village it’s not December 25 all year round.