It’s that time of the year. Lights, decorations, mulled wine, cinnamon, carolling and last but not least, big family gathering for Christmas dinner. Despite the Christian roots of the day itself, these are the images we can relate to when thinking of Christmas. While the festiveness is universal, most of those traditions and conventions come from Europe and North America. Christmas in Asia is different. It does not involve pigs in blankets, or eggnog, or John Lewis adverts. It is, however, unique and equally as festive.
Christmas in Asian countries is not normally considered a holiday, nor is it a day for family gatherings. Christmas has much more of romantic tradition; it is a day for people in love. Rather than family reunions with a giant Christmas roast dinner, restaurants and bars are usually full of couples enjoying their romantic dates. There is no particular Christmas dish or beverage enjoyed, but the romantic atmosphere is what really makes Christmas special in Asian countries.
Although it varies, countries like Hong Kong, South Korea, and Singapore, which have adopted certain aspects of the Westernised version of Christmas, put a great deal of effort into Christmas displays, so much so that it can hurt to look at it. The extravaganza put up in streets, malls, theatres, and basically everywhere you go reminds you from early November that it’s ‘that’ time of the year, even in Asia.
Typical Christmas symbolism like Santa Claus, angels, and carols, are undoubtedly beloved in Asian countries. I grew up in South Korea. And just like any other kids anywhere else, I was told to believe in Santa Claus. However, I was not told that Santa would come down through the chimney since many of the houses in Korea do not have chimneys. But still, it’s good to know that Santa also travels to Asia to spoil kids with lovely little gifts.