Christmas in South Korea

A Christmas tree in the Shinsaegae department store in Busan.

For a great number of you readers in Toronto the Yule tide is nearly upon you and I’m sure a lot of you are looking for various gifts and trinkets to satisfy your friends and family. Perhaps some of you may also have a traditional Christmas dinner to look forward to. Well sadly, this year I won’t be home for Christmas as my budget cannot facilitate a two way ticket to Toronto. This marks my first missed Christmas which is going to be a bit sad as my family usually goes all traditional with all the trimmings. Tree, turkey, gifts and all! But this year it looks like I’ll be spending my holiday in good ol’ South Korea.

Some of you may be wondering, do Koreans even celebrate Christmas? Well listen well my friends for I shall impart to you the knowledge given to me by my Korean peers. The way the average Korean person celebrates Christmas is somewhat dependant on their family religion. Korean Christians of which there are many and largely come from the ‘sects’ of Catholic and Protestant (often simply referred to as ‘Christian’) tend to do the old-school family thing but this is also dependant on how ‘into’ their religion they are. For everyone else and the less devout more casual Christians, Christmas in South Korea is kind of like another Valentine’s Day.

My friend Alice in with a tree in Lotte World theme park in Seoul.

On this day you celebrate the birthday of good ol’ J.C. by chilling out with your girlfriend or boyfriend, do cute datey stuff and of course exchange gifts. Don’t have a lucky girl or guy? Then you get together with your other single buddies and party on! Seems fairly casual no?




Xmas tree festival in Busan.

Despite the predominantly casual nature of Xmas here I was surprised to see tonnes of decorations lining shops and street corners as well as Xmas music blaring out of store speakers since the end of November. It’s practically the same scene as back in Toronto! This is kind of comforting in a way though because when I was thinking of coming here I wasn’t sure how I was going to deal with the absence of Xmas which is one of my favourite times of the year! Thanks South Korea! Also to sweeten the deal the winter break in South Korea is actually two months which is totally awesome! Sadly I’m probably going to have to spend most of it prepping for the next level of Korean class coming next semester! Yikes! Anyway, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it! And to the rest of you Happy (and possibly belated) Hanukah, Ramadan, Tet, Guru Gobind Singh Gurpurab, Lohri, Kwanza and whatever other solstice related festivals I may have missed! My apologies if your respective holiday was not included, but whatever it is, have a good one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *