183 COMMENTS

It’s almost Christmas! Fun fact: we know most of you are from either North America or Europe. We, being in Korea, are ahead of you in terms of time zones, so that means we get Christmas before you do. BURRNNN! Except for you, Australia and New Zealand. You guise…we’re side-eyeing you……

Anyhow, today we’re talking about the difference between Christmas in Korea and our experiences of Christmas in Canada. We’re really lacking the Christmas spirit, guise. It’s hitting us hard this year. We’re really missing our families, and snow, and gaudy Christmas decorations. I want to see ugly Christmas lights outside of houses put up by people who are like “Ah crap! I gotta put out the Christmas lights! How about I just wrap this line of lights into a ball and plug that in? Christmas light ball!” Sure, you might be like “that’s ugly! I hate seeing houses like that!” but we’d love to see it. Better some lights than no lights. We’re looking out of our window right now at night and, seriously, there are no Christmas lights out anywhere for us to see at all. None. Come on, someone in Seoul! Put out a lazy light ball! Maybe because we’re surrounded by apartments? I know there are houses in Seoul in ritzier areas. I don’t know if those houses have Christmas lights. THEY BETTER! If not, I’d like to offer my services to them. *Knock Knock* “Hi! I know I’m a scary foreigner that you’ve never seen before, but can I decorate your house for Christmas?” *Door slam to the face*

OH MAN! I miss shoveling snow! I was so good at it! I took pride in being a good snow shoveler, growing up. Another interesting fact: because it doesn’t snow a lot in Korea, it always seems like people are confused whenever a big snow storm hits. We had one a couple of weeks ago and it was glorious! But (and here’s the side note part) we didn’t see any snow ploughs. Seriously! Are there any snow ploughs in Korea? Anyone ever seen one before?

To try to get some Christmas cheer, we decorated our apartment up a bit. We got a Christmas tree: not a real one, of course. We only saw fake ones for sale. You know, I’d actually have NO idea where to get a real Christmas tree from in Seoul. I’m sure we could go out of the city to pick one up. Right? Any of you have a real tree at your place? I remember driving out with my parents when I was a kid to pick out a tree, and the smell of the evergreen needles and pine cones. Ah! I really miss that. Not that we could get a tree for our place, with a new kitten now. Dr. Meemersworth would meemer all over that tree.

Now that I’m reading over this post, I know it’s looking like we’re just whining instead of informing. We just want to say that there’s a lot of stuff that we miss about Christmas that we don’t have here in Korea. We’re trying to make our place as Christmasy as possible, but we miss the collective fever. And so, the bigger point is don’t take Christmas for granted! I remember feeling burnt out during Christmas time in Canada and thinking “oh God! Not this time of year again!” Now, I’d really like to experience it again.

We’ve planned for tomorrow to try to get some Christmas spirit back. We’re gonna play Die Hard in the background all day and then put up some more decorations. Drink a hot toddy or two. Christmas cookies we’re gonna bake and give to our guards. THEY BETTER APPRECIATE THEM!

Also, we did a video a while ago about what Christmas is like, just not in TL;DR format. It’s so old! From, like, two years ago! Wow! Check it out here:

 

ToFebruary
  1. Hemahng Yeong
    Hemahng Yeong

    What im wandering is what are the holidays that korea and north america share? What are sime different ones? I know we share christmas but uts a little different and i know about black and white day but what about halloween or their independence day?

  2. Hemahng Yeong
    Hemahng Yeong

    What im wandering is what are the holidays that korea and north america share? What are sime different ones? I know we share christmas but uts a little different and i know about black and white day but what about halloween or their independence day?

  3. i agree,its the same here in ukraine,especially being a foreigner….no christmas spirit…

  4. kpopfan123
    kpopfan123

    I love reading your blog! :D

    <3<3<3<3

  5. Only just got to watch this video know. My mum and I went to South Korea in November last year…err, 2011…and we went to Lotte World and got a picture with Korean Santa:

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10150366785177447&set=a.10150366727087447.346098.623752446&type=3&theater

  6. Question for next TLDR- I work in healthcare & believe Australia & Canada have similar health care systems (big ups for public health!) What is the system like in South Korea. Do they have GPs/local Doctors and/or how is the hospital system managed? Cheers…

  7. BIGBANG808

    I am from Hawaii and was wondering if it’s common for koreans to look alike? Stereotype asian -_- ( I am asian ) but my classmate from korea looks like one of Simons students from Halloween candy.

  8. How is the New Year like in Korea? I mean usually Kpop Groups would post pictures in Hanbok and such but what is it really like i mean the feeling that is? Is there anything different compared to how it is celebrated in North America? When i used to live in the Philippines each house would have at least fireworks or everyone would make noise however in NJ where i currently live in fireworks aren’t allowed so my family just have a little dinner and such.

    • yohabloespanol1

      Sounds like people are obeying the rules there, but not where I’m from. New Year’s Day is a nightmare because I go to bed early, and then I would wake up two hours later to all my neighbors setting off fireworks at 1,2,3 A.M. I grew up in Illinois where fireworks were illegal but people just went to Indiana to get them, like seriously, if you go on one of the main freeways: every single billboard you see is for a fireworks business during major firework hollidays. It drove me nuts to see how many there were. I know I am so late, but happy hollidays everyone!

  9. Hi Simon and Martina! You’re videos are great! I’m curious about gender equality in Korea and what your experiences with it were. I’d love to know! :)

  10. Living in Daegu…no families celebrating, no christmas food, no christmas cartoons, no nativites…no good deeds being done, no salvation army…sigh** Just does not feel like Christmas. :( hahahahha Going home soon, though!

  11. Ellen Lincourt

    Have you ever been invited to experience Chuseok with a Korean family and, if you have, what was it like?

  12. Melisa1211

    I wanted to know how you guys became interested in Korea, and why you guys decided to move there.

  13. I’m with Simon! DIE HARD IS THE ULTIMATE XMAS MOVIE EVEEEEER!

    Well, that and Home Alone. What is xmas without Home Alone?! Nothing.

    But HEEEEEYYYYYYY!!!! DIE HAAAAARDDD *i feel like joey, chandler and ross screaming at my computer*

  14. coffeekpoplover

    It’s sad to know that people do not know off the magic epicness of eggnog…. :'(

  15. the christmas spirit – this year I don’t feel it too.
    however, this lacking started with being mum myself.. it’s sad, isn’t it?
    I’ve tried to sing christmas carols, or to prepare cookies with my daughter but no… still no christmas spirit.
    I’m depressed :(

    this year I’m on time with everything… maybe this is it! :)
    I should be in a hurry and running late to really feel christmas as it is / should be :)

    kisses and merry christmas – from Poland!

    btw, do your drink borstch or eat dumplings with sauerkraut and mushrooms like we do?!

  16. Here in my country ( Barbados) Christmas is mostly a religious holiday but there is alot of other stuff to go along with it. Food is the main focus and instead of turkey or goose, we do Christmas Ham and make a traditional dish called Jug-Jug. We also make a spiced drink that is made from the Sorrel flower( non-alcoholic), and drink a Caribbean version of Eggnog called Ponche de Creme (definitely alcoholic). We also have our version of fruit cake called ‘Great Cake’ which is far superior to fruit cake simply for the fact that various types of alcohol ( from wine, to stouts to rum) are the main ingredients. :-p. Thus they are usually moist and melt in your mouth.

    Traditionally at Christmas along with the decorating with lights and trees ( usually fake but some people ship in real ones) we also clean the entire house, from windows to floors, even sometimes repainting the house. Another thing we do is put up new curtains. Some people are so traditional about it that they stay up all night Christmas Eve to change the curtains so that Christmas morning finds the house looking completely different. We then go the church early and celebrate Christmas morning at Queen’s Park in the city. This is like an annual fashion parade, with our Police band playing carols in a band stand and people strolling around the grounds dressed in their most outrageous and extravagant Christmas Clothes.

    For those not religious, Christmas Day is all about the family, and the food. Boxing Day is spent visiting friends, having picnics at the beaches and parks and generally eating.

    Right now I am trying to find my Christmas Spirit by baking. Wish me luck.

  17. theicecrumbs

    In the Philippines, people go out-of-this-world, all-out crazy during Christmas. Despite not being one of the most well-off countries in the world, people still devote a lot of time, money, and energy into keeping the Christmas spirit alive. As soon as the -ber months arrive, TV stations start counting down until December 24th, malls start decorating, and kids would holler at houses singing Christmas carols. The Philippines is one very, very Christmas-y country. It’s probably the most Christmas-y country in all of Asia. Lol. :)

  18. For my Christmas in Korea I will be attempting to go to Seoraksan. This should work out well….right?

  19. I think it really is hardest on the American military personnell stationed here for a few reasons. This place is rather different than when deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan where as there you are constantly busy on mission and dont really have time to stop and miss the fact that you arent with family. It’s a completely different story here in Korea where during the holidays we are on half day schedules and extended weekends giving us nothing but time to think about the family you can’t see. I myself just hit my six month mark away from my wife and child (although the wife is comeing here to visit in Feb.). The military bases here really promote christmas and decorate and light up but as it is there to help you get in the christmas spirit it at the same time reminds you that you can’t be with family.

  20. Can you please explain the plot of some of your Favorite Korean dramas? Does Korea pass shows from other countries?

  21. Terina Choi

    I was born and raised in the USA and then I moved to New Zealand..Christmas time depresses me..Its summer here and Christmas isn’t huge huge huge here.Sure people put up trees and stuff, but its still missing that real christmas feeling.

  22. TO resident here; there’s no snow here, either, guys. ;o; So… I guess that’s one thing you wouldn’t be missing even if you came home. ;_;

  23. Christmas sex haha Simons such a boss!

  24. darksunmoon

    It’s Spudgy Claus!

    Do you think the date-thing could be related to the fact that young men have to serve in the army and Christmas time is usually a time when they go on “permission” (I’m unsure what the English expression for that is, but when you’re granted a day or more off the military base/camp to see your family and stuff) ?

    Do they have Yuletide Logs (French “Bûche de Noël”) in pastry shops in Korea? (I’m wondering because they mentioned that in the drama Cheongdamdong Alice last week)…

    Do they have versions of the classic carols in Korean playing or the same versions we hear in Canada?

  25. I completely understand. I’m living in Korea now and even though I’ve lived overseas before this is the first time I’ve missed Christmas with my family. I have a really big family and Christmas is by far the most important holiday for everyone. Even though there is a little bit of Christmasy stuff here I totally don’t feel like Christmas is coming. It’s just kind of meh…and depressing.
    My disappointment at their being no eggnog is pretty close to not being able to see my family. I wait for that stuff ALL YEAR. My favorite thing to do is sneaking cartons into movie theatres.

  26. For me, Christmas day is usually spent watching a movie trilogy or a marathon of some TV series. Still haven’t picked something for this year yet.

  27. Koreabound

    I consider myself fairly leftist in my political leanings and I am headed to Korea to teach English. Considering South Korea’s relationship with its Communist counterpart, have you ever encountered any McCarthy-like attitudes in Korean culture and would I have to be careful what I say so as not to risk losing my job/friends by coming off as a North Korean sympathizer? For example if I happen to say something like “In Canada, there are people who seem to care more about what their favourite celebrity is wearing than who their prime minister is”.

  28. A nasty Korean here! eum ha ha! I really miss Christmas in North America.’ㅂ’ I had such a wonderful holiday experience. And I realized how they are different from Korea. Thanks to my host family and dear friends, they gave me opportunities to enjoy the holiday just as one of them. It was gracious.

    Agree about Korea’s odd Christmas. About 19% of the population in Korea are Christians and about 10% are Catholics. Probably they are the one who seeks real Christmas spirits for religious reason and there’s many charities going on too. However, Christmas is an imported holiday for rest of Koreans. For adult couples, it’s all about themselves, and for the family with children, it’s all about their children. For children it’s all about their presents. That’s what I think from my experience for most of non-religious people in Korea.

    I wanna add things about family holiday in Korea though, since Christmas is not totally our family related holiday. Here in Korea, family gathering happens in Chu-suk (celebrating harvest) and New years holiday on Feb. (Koreans bow in front of their ancestors’ framed photo, prepare meals for dead ancestors and wish them for the family’s luck) I don’t think I’ve watched EYK videos totally related to Korean holiday yet. If there’s a way to experience local’s tradition, it’d be cool. I’ve seen foreigners having a short-term home stay with Korean family. So I wonder the same opportunity that I had in North America could be offered in Korea as well.

    Merry Christmas to EYK! and Merry Christmas to all your families and friends ^___^

    • Adilah Hab

      I get what you’re saying! I was just thinking of that, i mean christmas is usually an imported holiday in Asia! I think that mainly explains the difference in the christmas spirits, how its celebrated etc in Korea and North America

  29. ThePreviewQueen

    I feel your pain about not having any Egg Nog for Christmas. When I lived over in Europe for a few years I thought I would die…until I found a actual recipe for it! It takes time to make (you have to cook it on a stove!) but it tastes just like the stuff from the store! (after you chill it…of course.)
    It really makes you think of the old days when everything wasn’t found in a store and people had to make this stuff from scratch!
    Either way, if you would like me to hook you up with the recipe let me know, I would be more than happy to share!

  30. cookiemonster

    this makes me kind of sad :( no Chirstmas spirit?? I live in Australia so we don’t have the snow, real Christmas trees and stuff like that but we still have a lot of decorations up in stores, everyone is rushing around trying to get ready, santa in stores and lights on houses. My little brother and sister love all the lights and every year we go take a family walk around to certain areas close to where we live where the people go all out :D I guess Christmas time here is when it starts to get seriously hot and humid and its MANGO SEASON yeahhh!! Also, I’m very religious so of course I would never think about Christmas without my family, it’s funny that its a date night in Korea.
    anyways, MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE :D

  31. baka0usagi

    If it’ll make you guys feel better… there has been no snow whatsoever yet in Toronto. We haven’t even had our first snowfall of the year yet! It’s completely green outside… doesn’t quite have the same festive feel. I guess the warmer weather would be good for those that are out on the streets :( The malls have been quieter too, not as many people rushing through to finish their last minute shopping. Also, the sales for Boxing Day isn’t as hyped up as it use to be now that we have Black Friday sales here in Canada too.

    Either way, thank you for your video. It reminds me to enjoy whatever we do have here and that ultimately Christmas is about spending time with family and being thankful for all that we have.

    Happy holidays!

  32. i’m not religious, i’m not dating anyone…christmas in korea sounds perfect let me come over please ;AAAAAAAAAAA;

  33. I guess a good thing about that christmas, is its a lot less comericalised.

  34. Mimosa Sillanpää

    It’s funny how you all talk about that there’s no egg nog and I’m like *raises her hand* “Umm.. what’s egg nog?” Anyways, it sound so good when S&M described it.. :S

  35. Martina, I always here you say “about” with a Canadian accent. Most often, much stronger than the one you just did in this video!

  36. fuuko4869

    In other news, I would pay someone to make a “Christmas Sex” parody. I’d send it to all my friends in Japan :p

  37. fuuko4869

    Yes Simon and Martina, that video and blog post did sound like a massive whiny rant :p

    *judging you*

    – but i still love you

    I’m religious, so for me Christmas is mainly just going to church and commemorating Jesus’ birth, but I have had a taste of many different Christmas traditions. From your description, Canada is up there with the countries that make the biggest deal out of it. Biggest celebration of the year even?

    Indonesia – It’s the biggest Muslim country in the world, so the biggest celebrations are Ramadhan and Idul Adha. Christmas is a public holiday!! Yay!! And that’s it. ………..okay there is some extra stuff, like sometimes my friends come over to eat snacks. We’d go to church, my parents would give me and my sister presents, and we’d turn on a Christmas cassette. Maybe it’s just because I was in a remote town which was 99% Muslim, but yea, it was just a holiday that the government had to give us because of religious tolerance (it’s in the middle of the school term so we only get one day off). In the cities there’s more decorations and music, but it’s a “Christian” holiday so non-Christians don’t really celebrate it. I remember a friend asking me if Christians worshiped trees. .___.

    Australia – Decorations start in September? Similar to your Canadian Christmas, with the extra twist of Kangaroo-pulled wagons (instead of sleighs with reindeer) and Santa sunbathing on a beach (seriously, I saw such a display at Hoyts). Carols and public Christmas events, Myers has awesome Christmas displays – lots of that so-called ‘cheer’. Then Christmas Eve/Day is about family and relatives, massive BBQ, lots of presents, and lots of drinking. Australia also has the extra tradition of Boxing Day (26 Dec) when all the shops have massive sales and we’re supposed to buy stuff for ourselves. Some shops have people lining up from the night before, for these boxing Day sales.

    Thailand – Similar to Indonesian cities in that the decorations and music is visible in big shopping centres for retail promotion purposes, but only the Christians really celebrate it. I think the public holidays go a bit longer than in Indonesia though. The churches generally have some projects like singing carols in the shopping centre or inviting people along to big Christmas church services. I don’t think the Buddhists celebrate it in any way – Chinese New Year is the big thing.

    US – Most of y’all are from there so no need to describe it right? I remember it being very similar to Australia. Big retail extravaganza. Santa Santa Santa everywhere (much more Santa than anywhere else I’ve been). Reindeers and snow and snowflakes and Christmas trees and snowmen and elves – who came up with all these? Lots of decorated houses everywhere, so intricate and using up so much electricity :p Presents, big present culture….and yes the main difference from Australia is obviously all the winter-associated Christmas symbols.

    Japan – Well, they don’t hold back with the decorations in public areas, as it is a pretty big culture even in the more rural areas. Lights on the streets and people even put wreaths on the door sometimes. But similarly to the Korean Christmas that you described, it’s mainly about the dating on Christmas Eve. There’s snow, and occasionally snowmen, but it’s not really associated with Christmas as much as New Year’s is (New Year is a much, much bigger celebration – the biggest, in fact). Hardly any Christians in Japan, and they just go to church. Not much family/friend stuff either.

    Hong Kong – Tsim Sha Tsui has pretty decorations!! veryone goes there to take pictures!! And there are many decorations on the streets and shopping centres, like in Japan. Didn’t see any on houses cos there are no houses oh snap E I don’t really remember doing anything else Christmassy. I went to church. That was it. .__. If there was a dating culture, I had no idea. I’m single :p

    I don’t remember spending Christmas anywhere else. If I did, it would’ve been somewhere in Asia and it probably involved church and little else.

    I suppose the US and Canada and Australia and perhaps Europe? Are all up there in the places where even non-religious people make a big deal out of Christmas. In most other countries I’ve been, it’s a fairly exclusive Christian holiday (or just celebration in places where it isn’t a holiday).

    Well, in short – for me, I find Aussie/US Christmasses to be waaay too hyped up. I actually go out of my way to avoid spending Christmas in those countries. I love buying presents for people I love, and meeting my family and relatives, but I prefer to do that on a one-on-one basis, at randome times during the year, like their birthday. I’m not attached nor attracted to any of the other Christmas stuff like trees and food and decorations or, yes, even egg nogg. Sorry.

    Now after pouring water over everyone’s festivities, I shall take my leave. ((((((((((((((( – . -)

    • yohabloespanol1

      Your Boxing Day sounds like the American version of Black Friday. Crazy shopping, it’s the one day I refuse to go out because I’m terrified I will be knocked over and trampled on.

    • With my family in Australia we hate the commercialness (made that one up) of Christmas so we are only allowed to MAKE presents for everyone. And we only drink on Christmas Eve…it seems…wrong to be drunk on Christmas, even though we aren’t religious. The BBQ though, that is where it’s at, preferably at a beach or the pool, because it tends to be a ridiculously hot day, too. Lol

    • irritablevowel
      irritablevowel

      Don’t forget Latin America! I’d say Christmas is a pretty big deal in both North and South America, Europe, Russia and Australia. Well, at least in the majority of Europe, and at least with Russian immigrants, Christmas is big.

    • NANAandLIZZYfanatic

      Yeah I saw something on TV and it was a love hotel that was Christmas themed, I was dying laughing.

  38. Ludmila Svistunova

    Speaking of cats and Christmas trees, getting a fake tree doesn’t really help. I have a black cat who is 13 years old, and he’s managed to attack every Christmas tree we had, fake or not. His favourite Christmas activity, however, is biting off decorations at 4 a.m. to wake us up and feed him.:)

    With regards to differences in celebrating Christmas, back at home (in Ukraine) the biggest holiday is the New Year. Before Soviet times, Christmas was definitely the biggest holiday of the year, when the entire family would get together, and they seem to be trying to restore this tradition now that our country is independent again. Also, I only recently realized that Carol of the Bells is based on my favourite Ukrianian Christmas chant! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carol_of_the_Bells

    Will you guys have a Sylwester party too?

  39. Beccatokki

    It makes me sad that there isn’t very much Christmas cheer in Korea (even though I’m not Christian ahaha) and I’m feeling a little bit of the Christmas blues as well! Normally, when my family lived in the States, we would gather a huge group of jewish people and congregate at a favored local Chinese food/dim sum restaurant and I would have my best friends sleep over. It was great. However, we’re in HK now and so we don’t have that large group of friends so I’m feeling a little lonely as well since people are busy during this time of the year going on vacation. So I guess it’s not just Korea that isn’t feeling the Christmas family cheer? :)

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