Although I am not celebrating the holidays in Korea, I can drop a few of my knowledge on what goes on there.
Similar to the whole essence of Seoul, Christmas decoration is over-the-top in all of the touristy spots. Also, since this year’s Winter Olympics is held in Korea, the mascots, Soohorang and Bandabi, are everywhere too.
At home, I don’t really notice any big holiday decorations. I can only think of the huge Christmas tree in Union Square in San Francisco and other comparably small trees. It’s probably because I’m not aware of the big celebrations that go on, but there certainly is a large Christmas presence in Seoul. Of course, Christianity is the most predominate religion in the U.S. Therefore, it makes sense that Christmas is big here. But what about Korea?
This semester, I took a class called Religion and Culture in Modern Korea. We learned about many religions that people practice in Korea, including Christianity. Likewise with others, Korean people converted to Christianity in order to seek out answers to their problems, in ways that other religions couldn’t help with. Especially during the time of the Japanese occupation and the Korean War did the numbers of Korean Christians rise. Faith in Jesus Christ is believed to be one of the things that helped Koreans out the most during that time.
I’ve always thought that the spread of Christianity to Asian countries was fascinating, because folk religion is so prevalent. But at my home university, there are hardly any classes that teach about that specifically. The only work I’ve done relevant to religion in Asia was a research paper I wrote about Chinese Christianity.
I think I am very lucky to have the chance to come to Korea and study its religion and culture. It means so much to me to gain knowledge about a different country while being there. I’m forever grateful.
But going back to my title, “Christmas in Seoul”, I do think Korea being a pretty big Christian country is one reason why Christmas is very celebrated. However, I also heard that Christmas is infamous for being “couples’ season.”
Now, I wasn’t in Seoul during the day of Christmas, but even off-season is the couple culture so rampant. I’m not especially bitter, more so just surprised about how much P.D.A is shown. Not to make this post about couple culture though, it’s just what I’ve heard. Christmas in Seoul is a time for couples to get together and I heard that it’s awkward to be by yourself that day.
Glad I wasn’t there during that time.
To close off, I wanted to say that the holidays in Seoul is very beautiful. There is light snow, and if you’re lucky, it will stick and be fresh and not icy. The sales are good, so it’s nice to go to Seoul during December. With someone else, of course, if you’re going to be there on the 25th.