Christmas in Korea : Christmas Day in South Korea in 2021!
In this article we will share to you information about Christmas in korea, how it became a national holiday and how korean celebrate christmas in south korea.
Christmas is a National holiday in south korea yet not as big as a traditional holiday such as Seollal or Chuseok, which makes most korean travel back to their hometown to celebrate it with their family.
During Christmas, usually koreans just enjoy a day off to relax and looking around in the city where they live. This holiday is also well known as Valentine’s Day with Santa Claus as korean usually spent time with their loved ones more than their family in this holiday.
History of Christmas Day in Korea
Back then in 1945, the U.S.A ruling government in South Korea declared Christmas a national holiday. Afterwards in 1949, South Korea’s first president, who was also a Christian, enforce this holiday and once again designated Christmas as a Korean national holiday.
After the second world war, only 5% of the population was Christian in Korea. Since then, Christianity has grown in the country, and now more than 25% of the population are Christians.
Christmas in Korea
Christmas in Korea is actually similar to those in another country both in western and eastern christian countries. There are Christmas decorations in many shops, display, shopping mall, public street decorations and people are spending time together to take a picture in these beautiful decorations areas.
Other than that, there are also many special Christmas services in churches around the country for christian all over south korea. Some people spent time with their church community afterwards by exchange gifts and dinner together after the service.
Christmas Traditions in South Korea
Christmas in Korea is not like a cultural holiday or event, but it’s much more of a religious (christian) or for other religions, a couple oriented holiday. Those who doesn’t have couple and are not a christian usually just spent time with their family or friends drinking together while enjoying the vibes and using Christmas or Santa type of outfit.
Happy/Merry Christmas in Korean is ‘Meri krismas’ (메리 크리스마스) or ‘seongtanjeol jal bonaeyo’ (성탄절 잘 보내요) or ‘Jeulgaeun krismas doeseyo’ (즐거운 크리스마스 되세요). Christians can say ‘Sungtan chukhahaeyo’ (성탄 축하해요) to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Happy/Merry Christmas in lots more languages.
If you live in North Korea (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Christmas will be very different. Being a Christian is ‘officially’ allowed but you can go to prison, or even be killed for being a Christian or even having a Bible. Christians in North Korea have to meet in secret and any celebrations of Christmas will also be held in secret.
Christmas Food in Korea
South Korea don’t have any special food to celebrate christmas as it is not a cultural event, but rather a religious event. However, usually koreans eat korean BBQ, Jjolmyeon and other popular winter foods that not just delicious but also help to beat the cold.
Other than that, especially for couple, they usually buy a decorated christmas cake to eat after the meal and take a picture together while exchanging gifts to one another.
In case you want to buy some christmas cake for your couple in korea. you can find this Christmas Cake, usually a sponge cake covered in cream, in a local bakery.
If you don’t like a sponge cake and prefer an ice cream cake, you can get it from a shop like Baskin Robbins.
Christmas Decorations in Korea
If you are our instagram or facebook followers for some time, you will already realized and recognized how koreans celebrate christmas in korea. You also must be used to see Christmas light here and there in korea, yet the good news is that every year the decorations is changing and that’s why we need to keep an eye on every christmas.
Shops and cafes are often decorated. Shopping districts like Myeongdong, Hongdae, Dongdaemun, and Gangnam are full of Christmas lights and decorations. Other than that, Cheonggyecheon is also one famous spot during christmas for it’s beautiful lighted christmas tree and decorations on that stram.
Other than these, most of shopping malls in Korea have large Christmas trees covered with shiny ornaments and beautiful decorations. Like the rest of the lights in these districts, the Christmas decorations look ultra-modern.
Christmas Songs and Music
While most of christian all over the world might expect to hear Christmas or church song on many places in their country, it’s a little bit different with korean. Korean are more focus on the love aspect rather the religious aspect of Christmas song.
Korean usually use K-POP christmas song rather than using traditional one. You might already knew one great song by TTS (Girl’s Generation)-Dear Santa, as an example of KPOP Christmas song that was use for Christmas.
Activities during Christmas in Korea
Koreans usually spent time with their friends or family for single person. We rarely find someone becoming a Santa as we see in the Western Country that give gifts to a huge mass of people in the street or to a mass number or kids around the city.
However, even though Santa Claus in korea didn’t give mass gifts to people publicly, you can still see Santa Claus in some place around Korea, wearing red or blue uniform. He’s also known as 산타 클로스 (santa kullosu) or 산타 할아버지 (Santa Grandfather).
Private Party (Hocance) and Exchange Gifts
Korean prefer spent time with few people of their community together in an apartment, hotel or restaurant to do some private exchange of gifts. You can order Christmas cake to eat together with your community and also spent a good quality time during Christmas inside rather than outside.
Hocance is a word that combines “hotel” and ”vacance” and represents that Korean people spend their weekends and holidays at hotels with cozy rooms and modern facilities. It is now all the rage in that it’s affordable, and you can chill out without taking leave.
One of them is Paradise City in Incheon. This place is a hit among hocance-lovers as it features an indoor and outdoor pool open all year round as well as a fitness center, a casino, a theme park, and a shopping plaza. You can also enjoy luscious food and drinks there.
Go To Theme Parks
If you are in Seoul durign Christmas, then you can visit Lotte world amusement park. Lotte World usually held a Christmas light festival with the theme, “Make a Winter Miracle Lights Up” until December 31st,
The other famous theme parks in Korea is Everland Theme Park. Everland Theme Park usually held “X-Mas Fantasy” with fantastic Christmas parades and performances until January 3rd, 2021. Just for your informations, theme parks are always very busy during Christmas eve and Christmas Day.
Ice Skating and Sledding
Koreans love to ski, snowboard, and snow sled at the ski resorts in winter. There are many ski resorts n Korea, such as Vivaldi Park, Elysian Gangchon, Phoenix Park, Alpensia, High1, Yongpyong, and many more. There are transfer service or shuttle bus from Seoul to these ski resorts. Also, there is Eden Valley Ski Resort where you can enjoy from Busan in a day.
If you’d like to get in the Christmas spirit and have a little bit of a hard time doing so, consider being super festive and setting up a caroling party with your friends on Christmas Eve. Caroling is common throughout the holiday season in Korea, so don’t be shy and try to make one for you and your community.
Light Festivals in Nami Island, Petite France and Garden of Morning Calm
With the holiday season coming, there are a lot of amazing light festivals going to be held in Korea. Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival, Petite France Little Prince Lighting Festival, Lotte World Tower, and department stores like Lotte Department Store and Shinsegae Department Store, Seoul City Haul Plaza, etc., are all the great spots where Koreans will go and see those dazzling displays.
Christmas in korea is a heavily commercialized holiday, and there are plenty of Christmas sales and Christmas-themed advertisements at this time of the year. Large department stores start featuring holiday discounts as early as mid-November to encourage the early birds to start shopping.
Korean Christmas Cards
Other way korean celebrate Christmas and show their affection to one another is by sending a christmas cards to their loved ones. Christmas card are really easy to find in korea, and also affordable compare to western countries christmas cards.
Christmas Fairs and Markets
There are some christmas fairs and markets all around korea in which you can have some roasted chestnuts to help you beat the cold or just do some fun activities with your loved ones. It’s not always there every year, but sometimes there are small christmas fair in Seongbuk areas and Shinchon areas (in front of Yonsei University)
Eland Story Cruise
If you prefer to have some beautiful sight rather than just doing some other activities, then this might be for you. You can take this scenic and romantic eland cruise during christmas on the beautiful han river. There are affordable package of eland cruise with coffee to accompany your romantic dates.
Christmas in Korea 2021
With current ongoing pandemic, we don’t know for sure what activities are available to do and which events are going to open this year, yet just for you to know, Christmas in korea is all about celebrations and spending a quality time with our loved ones, either family or friends.
Christmas in korea is not so much about religion activity, so whether you are a christian or not, just join and enjoy the vibes of Christmas in Korea with whatever activities that are available during this pandemic.
Which activity you love to do the most among all these we listed above? Or do you have your own activities other than we listed? Let us know in the comments below!