What Christmas in Korea is really like
South Korea is the only country in East Asia where Christmas is celebrated more widely celebrated when compared to other Asian countries like Japan and China. In comparison to these countries, Korea has a large Christian population (about 25%-30% population). However, the other 70% of people are Buddhist and about 25% of the population don’t have a religion. Also, Korea is the only country where Christmas is recognized as national holiday among all the East Asian countries. This means a day off to students, workers, and official employees.
Here are few things of what to expect when in Korea for the Christmas holidays:
Christmas is like any other holiday:
Christmas can be very exciting holiday for some Koreans. Or It can be the most saddest holiday for some because there is no important or close person to share the holiday spirit with. If you have ever heard about the non-traditional holidays in Korea, you have definitely realized that romance is integral part of any Korean holiday. Some of which includes: White Day, Black Day and the crazy Pepero Day. Like every pop culture country where love and romance is heavily emphasized, Christmas in Korea is romanticized upon the young couples and for people who don’t celebrate the true meaning behind Christmas. All the beautiful lights, gifts and the snowy scenery but bone numbing cold weather is just perfect for cuddling and snuggling with a loved one.
Discounts, Events and Big Sale days. Early Start!
The best part in Korea is holiday events like sales and promotions which can be found in every department store even some independent stores too. These sales and discounts starts as early as November and continues till January end. Cosmetics world usually offer free gifts for purchases to accompany your buy when worth over 15,000KRW. Many places have special promotional booths set up and a raffle for many different prizes along with some freebies which attracts shoppers. Many department store and independent stores will put their best foot forward to display decorations which matches the holiday mood. Part of their market strategy? Who knows! But it’s darn eye catching. One can also find excellent deals on websites, if interested in Korean products then Gmarket is a must. (English available), auction.co.kr (site is in Korean).
Many people hear view Christmas as couple’s holiday but if you are single person, you can still find Christmas decorations, lighting and holiday spirit all over Korean peninsula which is quite fascinating. Everywhere you go you can see matching outfit wearing couples taking their “Couple Selfie” or doing shopping around the holidays. But if you’re a lonely soul who cannot endure such nonsense the best solution is to dodge all the couple’s lovey dovey farcical drama and try to find someone special for you cause it’s Korea. It’s the best time as most people are willing to introduce to their single friends for a hook-up, so everyone has a chance to be loved and happy on the a very special day (not guaranteed). Also one can join many other foreign groups who celebrate Christmas together. So it’s a win-win situation for everyone. Perhaps?
Christmas Carols are well not quite like you remember them:
In the west, there is no Christmas without Christmas carols, same with Korea but with a slight catch. They don’t fit with the same genre. Despite the fact that there are very traditional Christmas songs playing on the streets and in the malls such as, “Silent Night” and “Jingle Bells”, these songs are not played on radio. We are more likely to get “All I want for Christmas is You by Mariah Carey, which in some way focuses the couple aspect in the holiday season (reminder: couples is big thing in Korea). Furthermore, every new K-Pop Band release Christmas songs which in one way or another way relates to relationship and love! Some new K-Pop idols songs which all of us can hear on radio are BoA – Last Christmas, K.will,SISTAR,BOYFRIEND – Pink Romance (K.Will, Sistar & Boyfriend ), BESTie – “Zzang Christmas”, Starship Planet – “Snow Candy”, . CNBlue Jonghyun and Juniel – “Love Falls” and list goes on.
Remember, even though Christmas in Western countries is celebrated quite differently from Korea in terms of how they celebrate the holiday. But the emotions underlying it have the same idea- Christmas is all about spreading love and caring for others, whether spent with family or someone special or even a stranger. Korea is full of traditional holiday spirit where friends and family are the highlight.
So Enjoy the Christmas holidays in Korea …. Ho-ho-ho. Merry Christmas to Everyone…..
Or Should I say: 메리 크리스마스 (meri keuriseumaseu)