Christmas in Korea.
Plainly said, Christmas is a ‘friend’ holiday instead of a ‘family’ holiday like it is in America. The opposite can be said about New Years in Korea - it’s a ‘family’ holiday instead of a ‘friend’ holiday like it is in America. No need to complicate matters. Everything else is completely backwards here so why not Christmas, right?
So in this already insanely commercialized country where even chocolate covered pretzel sticks have their own holiday one would assume that Christmas is just as commercial as it is in America. However, one might be surprised that in a country where Christianity is the majority religion, Christmas is not much more important than any other holiday. One could make the argument that 빼빼로데이 is bigger. One would also get pulverized by either candy canes or 빼빼로 depending who’s arguing.
So what about Saint Nick coming down your chimney? Oh yeah…no chimneys here. Well, what about the lumps of coal in your stocking if you’re bad? No stockings over the non-existent fire place…well then surely they kiss under the mistletoe? What do you mean it doesn’t grow here? Well it’s not Christmas without lights a tree…huh? what’s a fire hazard? Coniferous evergreens in short supply you say? For the love… if nothing else, they’ve heard of A Charlie Brown Christmas, right? No? Good grief.
But have no fear. It is a public holiday so most business will be closed. You’ll even see a lively decoration here and there. It also seems that each year is getting more Christmas-y looking. Artificial trees may not be in mass abundance but you can certainly find them. However, gifts under the tree are less in number. One thoughtful gift is much more common than several smaller gifts. Yeah but when I say thoughtful gift we may not be talking about the same thing. An envelope stuffed with cash? Thoughtful gift in Korea. Not rude. Soak that in, stranger.
It makes sense, though. How ethnocentric must I be to expect Korea to celebrate a uniquely Western holiday in the same fashion? Take the good with the bad, I say. At least Korea is safe from harm’s way. Christmas time in America is also the time for ear-piercingly bad Christmas music. Someone a whole lot more funny than me has already dissected just how bad it can be (NSFW but funny as all get out).
I joke but of course Father Christmas is in Korea. Take a look. It’s a bit different and a bit muted, but it’s slowly turning into the over-hyped money-driven holiday that we all know and
hate love back in the States. Happy Holidays, y’all.