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What is the Christmas culture in Korea?


The Christmas culture in Korea is a unique blend of Western traditions and Korean customs. While Christmas is not a traditional Korean holiday, it has become increasingly popular in recent years as a time for gift-giving, family gatherings, and festive celebrations. In this article, we will explore the various elements of Christmas culture in Korea, including the history of the holiday in the country, how it is celebrated, and what traditions are unique to Korea.

History of Christmas in Korea

Christmas was first introduced to Korea by Christian missionaries in the late 19th century. At that time, it was primarily celebrated by the small Christian community in the country. However, over time, Christmas has become more widespread and is now celebrated by people of all religions.

Christmas Decorations in Korea

One of the most visible aspects of Christmas culture in Korea is the decorations that adorn streets, shops, and homes during the holiday season. These decorations include Christmas trees, lights, and ornaments. Many major shopping districts and tourist areas also feature elaborate light displays and other festive decorations.

Gift-Giving Traditions

Like many other countries around the world, gift-giving is an important part of Christmas culture in Korea. However, there are some unique customs associated with gift-giving in Korea. For example, it is common for people to exchange gifts of food or household items rather than traditional presents like toys or electronics.

Korean Christmas Food

Food is a central part of Korean culture, and this is no exception during the Christmas season. One popular Christmas food in Korea is fried chicken, which has become a staple of many families’ holiday meals. Other traditional foods include roast beef or lamb, seafood stews, and rice cakes.

Christmas Music and Entertainment

Korean pop music, or K-pop, is popular around the world, and this is no exception during the Christmas season. Many K-pop stars release Christmas albums or singles, and there are also many holiday-themed concerts and performances in major cities around the country.

Christmas Shopping in Korea

Christmas is a major shopping season in Korea, with retailers offering discounts and promotions to attract customers. Many people also take advantage of the holiday season to buy gifts for friends and family members.

Christmas Eve Traditions

In Korea, Christmas Eve is often seen as a romantic holiday for couples. It is common for couples to exchange gifts or go on dates on this day. Many restaurants and cafes also offer special Christmas Eve menus or packages.

Christmas Day Celebrations

On Christmas Day itself, many Korean families gather together for a special meal or other festivities. Some families attend church services, while others spend the day relaxing at home.

Unique Korean Christmas Traditions

Although many aspects of Christmas culture in Korea are similar to those in other countries, there are also some unique customs associated with the holiday in Korea. For example, it is common for people to wear Santa hats or other festive headwear during the holiday season.

The Commercialization of Christmas in Korea

As with many other countries around the world, some people in Korea have expressed concern about the commercialization of Christmas. Some argue that the holiday has become too focused on consumerism and gift-giving rather than its original religious meaning.


In conclusion, the Christmas culture in Korea is a fascinating blend of traditional Korean customs and Western traditions. While the holiday is not traditionally Korean, it has become an important part of the country’s cultural landscape in recent years. By exploring the various elements of Christmas culture in Korea, we can gain a deeper understanding of the holiday’s global significance.

What is Korean traditional Christmas food?

In Korea, Christmas is a time for families to come together and enjoy traditional dishes like bulgogi, japchae, and kimchi. Similarly, during Korean New Year, people wear seolbim to pay respect to their ancestors before sharing a meal with loved ones.

Why is Christmas for couples in Korea?

Christmas became a popular holiday in Korea before Christianity was widely practiced, making it a secular celebration for non-religious individuals. Unlike in many other cultures, Christmas in Korea is not centered around family gatherings, but rather as a day for couples and romantic gestures, similar to Valentine’s Day.

How did Christmas become a celebration in South Korea?

The late Joseon period in Korea (1392-1910) marked the introduction of Western culture, including Christmas. Missionaries considered Christmas to be a significant holiday, similar to Chuseok in Korea, and it was celebrated as a festival in Western countries.

What are 3 Christmas traditions in South Korea?

In Korea, the Christmas season is a festive and bright time of year. The streets and malls are adorned with dazzling light displays and extravagant Christmas trees, and shops are full of holiday-themed merchandise. One particularly spectacular display can be seen at Cheonggyecheon Stream.

Is Christmas a big deal in Korea?

South Korea has a larger Christian population compared to other Asian countries like China and Japan, which is why Christmas is more widely celebrated there.

Are things open in Korea during Christmas?

Like many other countries, Christmas is a national holiday in Korea, and it is celebrated with decorations such as Christmas trees and lights.

One unique aspect of Christmas culture in Korea is the tradition of “jultagi,” or tightrope walking. During the holiday season, skilled performers will set up tightropes in public areas and perform daring feats for crowds of onlookers. This tradition dates back to ancient times and is still enjoyed by many Koreans today.

Another popular activity during the Christmas season is ice skating. Many cities set up large outdoor ice rinks where families and friends can gather to skate and enjoy the festive atmosphere. Some of these rinks are even decorated with Christmas lights and other holiday decorations.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend of “secret Santa” gift exchanges among friends and coworkers. Participants draw names out of a hat and then anonymously give gifts to their chosen recipient throughout the holiday season. This has become a fun and popular way for people to celebrate the holiday without breaking the bank on expensive gifts.

Despite its increasing popularity in Korea, Christmas is still not recognized as an official national holiday. However, many businesses and schools will close for the day, allowing people to spend time with their families and celebrate the holiday in their own way.

Overall, the Christmas culture in Korea is a vibrant and unique blend of Western traditions and Korean customs. From gift-giving and food to music and entertainment, there are many different ways that Koreans celebrate this special time of year. Whether you’re a local or a visitor to the country, there’s no doubt that the festive atmosphere of Christmas in Korea is something special to experience.

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