Celebrating Christmas in Korea
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Kwanza, Hanukkah, Christmas. Whatever your preference or religion, the ending of December is a meaningful period across the world. Particularly in the U.S., December 25th is a major day. There’s the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the decorating of winter trees, buying presents and Christmas cards to send to distant relatives, dipping into your savings fund to make sure you get that perfect gift for your friends and family, giving back to those less fortunate than you, creating a feast of a menu, and spending time with your loved ones.
On the contrary, Christmas in Korea is spent primarily with a lover and doesn’t lead into a winter break. Christmas is a public national holiday, which is probably somewhat strange for most of us used to the personal, family and friends aspect in the west. Most work is stopped for the day and the people relax by visiting various cafes and festive places. The focus here isn’t on family and giving, but romance. It’s a time to be tender and get cozy with your significant other!
The Foods of Christmas in South Korea! In Itaewon there are westernized shops where couples can go to sip hot chocolate and eat pastries. Foreigners looking for traditional Christmas food while in South Korea can find expat groups organizing get togethers on Facebook and Meet! Though, Korea doesn’t cater to the traditional western tastes of Christmas, so your best bet is eating Korean food.
Some great dishes include Hotteok - a South Korean street food resembling a pancake with various fillings, Fishcakes - a fried cake-like dish of minced or ground fish mixed with a starchy food, Tteokbokki - stir fried rice cakes, and gyeran-ppang - a sweet loaf of bread cooked with a whole egg on the inside.
Fish cake is a spongy, but delectable comfort food amongst Koreans. The fish cake soup that accompanied the skewer is great for warming up your body.
Tteokbokki can be sweet or spicy. It consists of chewy rice cakes boiled in red sauce. Don’t let the color fool you though! Most of these recipes are on the sweeter side.
Last but definitely not least is gyeran-ppang, which is simply egg bread. These snacks are popular year round and they can be very beautiful!
A Day Of Christmas Activities in South Korea!
If you’re into celebrating Christmas in South Korea on a more religious experience, you’re in luck. As of 2014, 30% of South Koreans are Christian. There are many churches that have mass or religious events going on for the holiday. You can celebrate the birth and life of Jesus Christ and enjoy the Christmas carols that are quite popular amongst the teens and young adults in the Christian community!
Thinking of buying presents for your Korean friends? It’s tradition to buy only one present or give cash equivalents. This is because Christmas is more about the rest you get that day and the celebration of love and life. If you’re not sure what to buy, think of practical gifts. Yummy non perishable foods, tea sets, and gift baskets you can tailor to each individual. But don’t go all out! You’ll want to save your coins for dinner later on.
Speaking of dinner, you’ll want to make reservations way ahead of time if you’re planning on doing anything popular that day. This includes skiing, snowboarding, booking Airbnb’s to get away for the day, ice skating and eating major meals at restaurants! Christmas is a very busy time for Koreans, so they make their reservations early!
If you need the familiarity of Westernized Christmas for your celebrated winter holiday, it’s best to plan your trip for the early parts of season! We hope you do stay and try out the Korean celebrations of Christmas time but we totally get it if you want to be home.
Regardless of how and where you spend your winter break this year, we wish you to be filled with joy, warmth, love, and happiness!
All the best and Happy Holidays from ARMY MAGAZINE. 보라해!
Written by: Brie Edited by: LJ
Design by: Kaitlyn
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