Have you ever wondered how your favourite idol is spending his/her holidays? Are you planning your future in Seoul and wondering how your Christmas celebrations will have to change and adapt? Fret not! I am here to enlighten you on Korean Christmas Celebrations.

While Christmas in the UK and the rest of the western world is an old tradition, focused around family, warmth and a sense of belonging and love, in Korea along with a large part of Asia, it’s a new phenomenon. If we go back a mere 10 – 20 years, Christmas hardly existed. However, along with the globalisation, modernisation and westernisation of South Korea, an influx of expats and tourists, and a general widespread popularisation of the Christmas celebration, it is now a national holiday.

While in western countries, we celebrate Christmas eve and morning with family, good food and lots and lots of presents, Koreans celebrate by meeting friends, going out, clubbing and enjoying a day off. Some exchange gifts, but rarely more than one, and while in the UK it is considered appropriate to give actual presents, a common gift in Korea is money.

This all might seem odd to us, with our religious family traditions, large family dinners and cosy indoors celebrations, but in Korea they have an older tradition in Chinese New year’s celebrations, usually around February, where families spend the day together, greeting elders and children receive money gifts.

Christmas Eve is often considered a couples holiday, where restaurants are busy, romantic Christmas dinners with good food and drinks, or for those single, long nights clubbing with friends and drinking.

Previously, GD and TOP have spent Christmas Eve at a club in Gangnam, performing and enjoying the night with other partygoers. Other idols usually mark it with tweets of well wishes to fans, often spending Christmas with their group and label mates, as Christmas is a busy time for entertainment companies. Many groups produce special Christmas singles, like these ones you can check out here.

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If you are a westerner dependant on tradition and always eat and do everything the way mum did back when you were 10, perhaps South Korea isn’t the place to go for the holidays. But if you’re looking for something new and you’re a bit tired of the constant pressure to get everyone the right gift and baking cookies for a family of 10, you’ll enjoy yourself. The shopping streets are lit up with Christmas lights, and although snow is not a guarantee, it is often cold enough for it when December comes to an end. Korea offers delicious traditional food – although you’ll be hard pressed to find your mum’s home cooked turkey with gravy.

Not to mention all the Year End shows between Christmas and New Years. During December there are award shows and music shows, special stages by idol groups, and SNSD even had their very own Christmas Showcase back in 2011. If you want to keep up to date with KBS, SBS and MBC’s year-end shows, check out our handy survival guide!

With this, I hope you all have a very Happy Christmas, and a wonderful final week of 2013. Whether you are celebrating with family, friends or a quiet night by yourself, whether it be in the UK or Seoul…

Merry Christmas.

And don’t forget to leave your votes in the UKP awards for best dance, best UK concert, and best concept of 2013! 🙂



About Author

Journalism and Media & cultural studies @ Kingston University, London. Aspiring traveller. There's always a story to tell - my job is to find the perfect angle!