How Does Korea Celebrate Christmas?


4 Answers

Yo Kass Profile
Yo Kass answered
Christmas time in Korea may seem familiar to many westerners, because a number of festive traditions that Koreans observe are also shared by countries across the world. This includes the exchange of gifts and may even include dressing up as Santa Claus!

Koreans observe Christmas as a public holiday and, for roughly a fifth of the population that actively practice Christianity, it is also recognized as an important spiritual time of year. 

Traditions of a Korean Christmas

With the increasing influence of the West on the Korean way of life, it's not surprising to see just how much a Korean Christmas has in common with the way the winter festival is celebrated in the West.
Traditions that you may recognize include:
  • Exchanging gifts and cards
  • Public decorations adorning streets, shop windows and other public places
  • Tucking into a Christmas dinner
  • Caroling
  • Christmas movies and cartoons appearing on Korean TV
  • Attending church services

Christmas in Korea

At this point, you may be wondering what it is that actually distinguishes a Korean Christmas from those celebrated in other countries...

The first point I'd make is that Christmas is still very much the realm of children and teenagers in Korea- all other major Korean holidays put great emphasis on paying tribute to elders and to recognizing one's heritage and ancestors

Also, the general atmosphere of a Korean Christmas is less 'vibrant'. Koreans don't usually have a big run-up to Christmas, it's less of a 'commercial event', and gifts are usually only given to close friends and relatives.
Whilst on the subject of gift giving, Koreans also tend to only give one carefully-selected gift to each person for Christmas, rather than stacking presents up under the tree and filling stockings with smaller presents. In fact, the general atmosphere around Christmas is more subdued - especially in comparison to Korean New Year which follows shortly afterwards. 
Girija Naiksatam Profile
In Korea Christmas in a national holiday since about 50 per cent of the entire Korean population is Christian. There are the regular Christmas parades and people dressed up as Santa Claus do walk down the streets but the biggest thing about Christmas in Korea is the Christmas mass. Almost everybody makes it a point to attend this religious gathering after which all other celebrations ensue.

However, there is a certain hustle and bustle missing in the air and one cannot expect Christmas to be celebrated the same way that it is in the West. Hence, if you're a visitor coming here from the West to the East, you might not be as pleased. On the flip side, the Koreans do have a grand celebration at the end of January which happens to be their Lunar New Year. This is somewhat akin to their Christmas.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
Korea celebrates christmas by walking around the streets dressed as Santa Claus.
Ugochi Profile
Ugochi answered
Christmas and New year is celebrated in Korea with an attitude slightly dissimilar to that of Europe and the Americas. Korea reverses Christmas and New Year’s Eve in terms of holiday company. New Year’s Eve is for family. Christmas is for young couples.

The air electrifies with festivities of a different sort,  shopping, meeting friends, etc. Young adults show off the hottest winter fashions, usually involving miniskirts and finely tailored hip hop wear. Amusingly, one can still buy some roasted chestnuts and an eggnog latte in the anti-traditional neighborhood.

Despite the associations of a couples’ holiday, families do celebrate Christmas in a slightly more low-key way than do their Western counterparts.

The Christmas cake stands as the center of Korean Christmas. The Christmas cake has become such a popular item that any business that has anything to do with baking or sweets sells its own line of Christmas cakes. Each year they compete to outdo themselves and other businesses in cake decorations and promotions. As the crowds start to subside, young men and women brave the chilly night to loudly hawk the last cakes in stock.

Restaurants and hotels also serve traditional Christmas  dinners and buffets, and some people prefer to spend the holidays at  home with family and friends instead of venturing out in the cold to  restaurants

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