Travel & Expat Lifestyle Magazine

Christmas in Asia: South Korea and the Philippines


South Korea

About 50% of Koreans are Christian. The other 50% are Buddhist, and they do not celebrate or care about the holiday. Korean Christmas is celebrated differently, depending on the individual. Some go out and do charity work, while others just spend time with their family. Many Koreans have adapted to the Western custom of having Christmas trees with presents under them. The normal present that people get (or give) is money, but material gifts are becoming more common. The Santa Claus image is also becoming more popular, and he is dressed in a red or a blue gown and sings to children. The Western customs are more popular with the younger generations of Korean society. Christian expats from the West can enjoy a relatively familiar Christmas celebration!


Korean Christmas food is not westernized, but is usual Korean food. They generally eat kimchi, hot peppers and bean paste, or Korean BBQ. No one really eats turkey.



Christmas in the Philippines is celebrated in the hot weather. Celebrations usually start around 9 days before Christmas Day. They have the longest Christmas celebrations because of the Spanish and Catholic influence. The Philippines is also the most Christian country in Asia. Churches hold hourly readings of mass, so that everyone gets a chance to go. There are also reenactments of Joseph and Mary searching for shelter. Filipinos eat pig roast for Christmas Eve Dinner, following Midnight Mass. The night of Christmas is celebrated by lighting lots of lights and candles everywhere.


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