For a country traditionally considered as Buddhist, the festive season of Christmas is celebrated by an increasingly large number of South Koreans today.
Like in major European and American cities, streets, department stores and churches are brightly lit up with decorations but there are some distinct differences. Whilst in the West people typically gather their family around and spend the day having dinner at home, South Koreans spend Christmas day by going out. While Christmas does carry a religious meaning it is largely associated as a romantic holiday season and a time to be spent with close family.Christian families will attend Church and give out presents to their close familiy while those of a non-Christian background will head to the city centre or winter sports centres for a day out.
During Christmas day, expect city centres to be packed with families going out for dinner, couples going out on romantic dates and shoppers going to department stores. Like a number of traditional and non-traditional holidays in Korea, it is becoming more of a romantic holiday. In fact, for those of a non-Christian background Christmas day is similar to how Valentines day is spent in the West.
Theme parks and ski resorts also offer special discounts during the holiday season. In fact, the winter sports scene in South Korea is growing with more people taking to the slopes and taking part in festivals like the Hwacheon Ice Fishing Festival.
Expect festive KPOP, big department store discounts and winter sport fun!