South Korea carries a considerable number of Christians than the other countries in the Asian continent.
Are there Christians in South Korea?
Statistics indicate that Christians are approximately 25-30% of the South Korean population, while about 7% are Buddhists or religion-less.
In South Korea, Christmas is considered a formal public holiday, unlike Japan which totally ignores the day of Christmas.
However, the 26th of December (Boxing day) is not considered as a holiday, and people go to school and work as usual.
There is an extensive official winter holiday during and after the New Year’s celebration.
The Churches usually have lights, and most of them have a shining red cross all around the year; thus, the Christmas lights blend in very well.
The people recognize the practice of going to church on the day of Christmas, and this has as well become common to the non-Christians.
The commercial aspects of Christmas are as well recognized in South Korea as the retail stores usually decorate their stores.
Generally, you will find a fascinating array of lights in Seoul (the capital city) to the bridges over the famous Ham River.
Some individuals (more so the expats and Christians in South Korea) decorate their houses with Christmas trees and other decorations.
There is also the exchange of gifts, and the most common gift is money. Even though some people have adopted the practice of giving actual gifts, money is still a very mutual gift.
The Korean Santa Claus can be spotted in blue and red, and he is recognized as Santa Grandfather (산타 할아버지) or ‘Santa Kullosu’ (산타 클로스).
The most common Christmas food is the Christmas cake, which is mostly a sponge cake that is full of cream and sourced from a local bakery.
Other snacks are also common, and you could get an ice cream cake from a store such as Baskin Robbins.
How to say Merry Christmas in South Korea
The Koreans refer Merry or happy Christmas as ‘Meri Krismas’ or ‘Jeulgaeun krismas doeseyo’ or ‘seongtanjeol jal bonaeyo’.
The Christians usually term it as sungtan chukhahaeyo, in recognition of the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birth. It is interesting to know how people wish Happy or Merry Christmas in other languages.
What of Christmas in North Korea?
If you reside in the Democratic People’s republic of Korea (North Korea), Christmas is taken from a different perspective.
Even though Christianity is authoritatively allowed in North Korea, you could get killed for exhibiting Christianity in any manner.
Thus, the North Korean Christians have to celebrate Christmas in secret and worship in hide-outs.
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Main Points About Christmas in South Korea
- Christmas is recognized as a national holiday in South Korea.
- South Koreans focus more on the religious representation of the Christmas holiday, rather than decorations and sharing of gifts.
- In Seoul, major stores and few public places, there are extravagant Christmas decorations and amazing lights on display.
- Money is the most common Christmas gift. It is popular for some South Koreans to exchange gifts on Christmas day.
- The Christmas cake is the most popular Christmas food. It is a sponge cake covered in cream. Some families could gather at home for their Christmas meal, while others could visit a restaurant to celebrate.
Unlike in Japan, Christmas is a public holiday in South Korea, but shools only have a short break, and there’s a long winter holiday around New Year. On Christmas Eve there are church services.
Giving gifts is common, but the most popular gift to give is money. You might see Santa around, but he might be wearing blue as well as red clothing and is also known as ”Santa Grandfather”.
Word Cloud for Christmas in South Korea
The following is a collection of the most used terms in this article on Christmas in South Korea. This should help in recalling related terms as used in this article at a later stage for you.
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Chara Yadav holds MBA in Finance. Her goal is to simplify finance-related topics. She has worked in finance for about 25 years. She has held multiple finance and banking classes for business schools and communities. Read more at her bio page.