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What do Korean eat for Christmas?


Christmas is a major holiday in Korea, but it’s not celebrated in the same way as it is in the West. While gift-giving and decorating trees are becoming more popular, Korean Christmas traditions still revolve around family gatherings and food.

History of Christmas in Korea

Christmas was first introduced to Korea by Christian missionaries in the late 19th century. However, it wasn’t until after the Korean War that Christmas became a public holiday. Today, Christmas is celebrated by Christians and non-Christians alike.

Korean Christmas Food Traditions

Korean Christmas foods often have a mix of Western and Korean influences. Fried chicken and pizza have become popular Christmas Eve dinners, while traditional Korean dishes like rice cake soup and barbecue are often served on Christmas Day.

Fried Chicken

Fried chicken has become synonymous with Korean Christmas. It’s not uncommon for people to pre-order their chicken weeks in advance or wait in line for hours on Christmas Eve to get their hands on some crispy, juicy chicken.


Pizza is another popular food for Korean Christmas Eve dinners. Many pizza places offer special holiday deals, and some even deliver until the early morning hours to accommodate those celebrating late into the night.

Rice Cake Soup

Rice cake soup, or tteokguk, is a traditional Korean dish that’s often eaten on New Year’s Day. However, some families also serve it on Christmas Day. The soup is made with sliced rice cakes, beef broth, and various toppings like egg and seaweed.


Korean barbecue is a staple at any family gathering, and Christmas is no exception. Families gather around a grill to cook meats like beef bulgogi and pork belly while chatting and enjoying each other’s company.

Christmas Cake

Christmas cake is a relatively new addition to Korean Christmas traditions. It’s often a light sponge cake with whipped cream and fruit decorations. Some families opt for more elaborate cakes with chocolate or fondant decorations.


Korean Christmas drinks often include traditional drinks like rice wine and soju, as well as Western drinks like champagne and wine. Some families also enjoy hot chocolate or cider to warm up on cold winter nights.

Christmas Decorations

While Christmas decorations aren’t as elaborate in Korea as they are in the West, many homes and businesses still decorate with lights and trees. Some areas even have Christmas markets where people can buy ornaments and other holiday goods.


Gift-giving isn’t a huge part of Korean Christmas traditions, but it’s becoming more common. Many people give small gifts to their loved ones, while others participate in Secret Santa exchanges or give presents to children.


Korean Christmas traditions are a unique blend of Western and Korean influences. While food plays a major role in celebrations, the holiday is ultimately about spending time with loved ones and creating memories together.

What do Koreans do on Christmas Day?

In Korea, Christmas is a festive time with large light displays, extravagant Christmas trees, and many holiday-themed items in stores. The Cheonggyecheon Stream is especially beautiful during this time with its many colorful lights.

What is a unique Christmas tradition in Korea?

South Koreans also have a tradition of feasting during Christmas, but the types of food served may not be familiar to those from other cultures. Instead of fruit cake, cream sponge cake is commonly served, along with ice cream cakes, steamed rice with fruit, and traditional staples like kimchi, noodles, and beef bulgogi.

What does South Korea drink for Christmas?

Sikhye is a traditional sweet beverage that is popular in South Korea, made from a combination of barley malt powder (also used in beer and bread), sugar, rice, and occasionally pine nuts. This drink is especially popular during Korean holidays and festivals.

What do Korean eat for breakfast?

A traditional Korean breakfast usually consists of boiled rice, soups, meat or fish stews, and various side dishes known as banchan. Banchan typically includes small plates of fermented vegetables, including the popular Korean dish kimchi. These dishes are often found on lunch or dinner menus as well.

Do Koreans get Christmas off?

In contrast to Japan, South Korea recognizes Christmas as a public holiday, giving people a day off from work and school, although they have to return to their usual activities on the 26th. There is also a longer winter break in the New Year. Churches in South Korea are adorned with lights and often feature a bright red neon cross throughout the year.

Why is Christmas for couples in Korea?

Christmas was introduced to many Koreans before they were exposed to Christianity, resulting in the holiday being viewed as secular rather than religious. In Korea, Christmas is not a holiday focused on family, but rather one that is celebrated by couples, similar to Valentine’s Day.

Church Services

For Christians in Korea, attending church services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day is an important part of the holiday. Churches often hold special services and performances, including choir concerts and nativity plays.

Christmas Lights

In recent years, Christmas lights have become more popular in Korea. Many public spaces, like parks and shopping districts, are decorated with elaborate light displays during the holiday season.

Couple’s Day

In addition to Christmas, December 14th is also celebrated as “Couple’s Day” in Korea. Couples exchange gifts and spend time together, often enjoying a romantic dinner or date night.

Charity Work

Some Koreans choose to spend their Christmas volunteering or participating in charity work. This can include serving meals at a soup kitchen, donating gifts to underprivileged children, or visiting hospitals to bring cheer to patients.

End of Year Celebrations

In Korea, the end of the year is a time for reflection and celebration. In addition to Christmas, there are several other holidays and events that take place in December, including Dongji (the winter solstice), New Year’s Eve, and Seollal (Korean Lunar New Year).

Family Time

Above all else, Korean Christmas traditions emphasize spending time with family. Many people travel long distances to be with their loved ones during the holiday season, and families often gather together for meals and festivities throughout the month of December.

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