The weather outside is cold and the sky is gloomy. But don´t be down - Christmas is coming! Have you ever wondered how other countries in the world celebrate Christmas? Well, no? Then let me tell you how Christmas in South Korea is like.
Unlike other western countries, Christmas is not a traditional holiday in Korea. But still, from November on, streets and shops decorate themselves preparing for Christmas. And the sound of a bell from the Salvation Army charity pot will fill up every street.
Christmas in Korea is more likely to be spent with your partner or friends. If you are Christian, you will probably go to church for the Christmas special worship. Otherwise, you hang out with your friends having a good time or spend a romantic evening with your partner. But don't worry! You can have an enjoyable time at home watching Christmas-y films on TV during the holidays. Whether you are a homebody or not, let me introduce you to a couple of events in Seoul (the capital of South Korea) that will make your mood even better.
The first one is "Seoul Christmas Festival". This festival starts in the middle of December until the first of January around the whole "Cheonggye Plaza (청계광장)" area. It offers an abundant variety of colourful attractions such as LED light works, Santa town, or the Palace of dreams, which will make you fall into winter stories. Oh, there is good news! There is no entrance fee for the festival so why don´t you bring your friends, partner or family to enjoy Christmas together?
The second event is the "European Christmas Market" in Seongbuk-gu (성북구), Seoul (my hometown!). It is about sharing what kind of Christmas traditional food and cultures there are in different European countries with events and music. Participant countries are Germany, France, Bulgaria, Spain, Czech Republic, Russia, Romania, Poland, Croatia and others. During your visiting there, you might feel like you are travelling Europe now!
As every coin has two sides, Christmas in Korea is often being criticized as well. As it is mentioned above, Christmas is not a traditional holiday where a family gathers together to have an enjoyable time. But still, many people celebrate this day which led to the commercialization of Christmas, targeting mainly couples. And this makes people who are single or cannot afford to buy those "Christmas" goods feel comparative deprivation. In reality, you will find many people saying the word "lonely" as the Christmas holiday is coming. Apart from your religion, maybe we can think about the nature of Christmas, which is sharing love and thinking about our neighbors.
Anyways, Christmas is coming soon and although it does not feel like real Christmas because of COVID-19, I wish everyone Merry Christmas. Stay healthy!
Haneul is from Seoul, South Korea and loves Germany. She is studying International Tourism Management at the European Campus Rottal-Inn in Pfarrkirchen. Baking and cooking are her biggest enjoyments but she is interested in history and geography as well.