Have you ever spent your Christmas holidays in South Korea or in a foreign country? Additionally, have you ever celebrated the Christmas season without your family? Finally, have you ever spent Christmas day without your friends, family, loved ones, or the people you used to be with during this special day? We traditionally celebrate this particular day with our family, friends, and loved ones in our country. However, due to the pandemic, I was not able to celebrate with them. Instead, I just spent the Christmas holidays in South Korea for the first time.
So how was it? Did I enjoy and had fun? Do they also celebrate and have a party or feast during those wonderful great days? Here, allow me to share my experience with you guys. I will also share with you how they usually celebrate the Christmas holidays.
Similar to many other countries, December 25; Christmas Day is observed as a national holiday in South Korea. Koreans celebrate this festive season by putting up and decorating Christmas trees and lights just as similar as other countries normally do. You can see these Christmas decorations all over South Korea.
Nevertheless, Christmas in South Korea is very different from Christmas in our country, the Philippines. There are similarities like it’s also a holiday and there are Christmas decorations around. Although beyond that, there is a huge difference – it is how people celebrate it.
Christmas day is a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact, a large portion of the South Korean population are Christians. Buddhism is also one of the main religions in South Korea. That is why they also commemorate and celebrate the birth of Buddha.
If I am to distinguish how Koreans versus other countries prepare for the Christmas season, well, there is a big difference. As soon as the ‘ber’ months starts (from September), I am used to hearing Christmas songs and seeing Christmas trees and lights in every house and buildings in our country. It’s actually a long celebration that lasts until New Year. However, it is not common in South Korea to decorate their houses with Christmas lights. Contrary, you can feel the Christmas vibes in some shops, malls, and cafes.
When you live in a foreign country very different from the world you used to, it is normal to feel homesick. You might miss your family all of a sudden. You might as well crave the food of your country all the time, especially during special days like Christmas. Well, groceries and marts in South Korea also offer Christmas bundles (chips, biscuits, cookies, etc.). I wanted to prepare traditional Christmas food from our country but, it’s not easy to find the ingredients that I need. Yes, I know, it doesn’t feel like Christmas without eating a traditional Christmas meal. But what can I do? I’m in a foreign country so I ended up eating just pizzas, chicken, and a Christmas cake.
Christmas Day Celebration
Unlike Korea’s long traditional holidays such as Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving Day) or Seollal (Lunar New Year’s Day), Koreans spend Christmas day with their girlfriends or boyfriends. In other countries, Christmas day is having fun and spending time with your family. But in Korea, it’s more of a ‘couple time’ rather than a ‘family time’. Furthermore, caroling and gift-giving are not common. Christmas they say is the season of giving. However, in South Korea, giving of Christmas presents to your family, friends, or loved ones is not a usual thing.
For the first time in my entire life, I spent my Christmas holidays in South Korea with a group of amazing foreigners. They are my friends actually. Notwithstanding, I had fun celebrating with them, yet being with your family together is indeed the best.