56 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:

 

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  1. 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. 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. Hi there, now sarcasm, Humour and jokes are ok but attacks are not. As you said it was wrong of the other person to assume you were a bigot but that was over 4 months ago.

    Also, tone is hard to read in a written message. It may have been helpful if you had put a smiley or some sign next to your original message so that the sarcastic intent was much more obvious.

    cheers
    Natz

  4. I love reading your blog! :D

    <3<3<3<3

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

  6. THERE IS NO CHILDHOOD WITHOUT SANTA AND EGGNOG!

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Mangoes!! They should’ve added it into this Aussie Christmas song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tz_KlcDXvqQ

    • So strange for me to hear that it is mango season in Austrailia. Mango season here is earlier in the year. I guess it is because you have flipped seasons…. Not that we get winter or fall here anyway. We have two seasons, dry and hurricane.

  10. I think it also has to do with whether or not the country’s foundation is based on Judeo-Christian values. Korea has Christians, but its foundation is based on Confucian values.

  11. Oh yeah! At first I thought, “That’s really not nice to do that to your girlfriend on Christmas dude.” But now I realize that he was doing that to her on what is basically Valentine’s Day, which is just harsh!

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

  13. I was wondering about that. Korea is fairly well known for their large percentage of Christians, so I figured Christmas would be a big deal. But I suppose if it was based on religious relevance alone, Easter should would be a bigger celebration than Christmas. I find a lot of Christmas celebrations to be associated with Western traditions and hardly based on Christianity at all. Santa and Christmas trees, for example :p

  14. It’s pretty sunny this week I’m hoping it’ll stay this way :D

  15. 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. ((((((((((((((( – . -)

    • 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.

  16. 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? :)

  17. It’s growing in popularity though. It’s probably going to become an artificial holiday like Halloween and White Day but every little bit helps when you feel disconnected from home. My 100 yen store actually had a sizable collection of decorations this year.

  18. OMG MARTINA I LOVE YOUR HOODIE!!!!!!!!!!

  19. No Eggnog?! well at least you guys can make it.

  20. again! it’s almost the same as Japan! But i was happy to hear you talk about it.

    here 24th is also the ultimate date night, worse than valentine’s day! the one year that i stayed in Japan (i often go back to Canada at that time) and was single, i was soooo perfectly miserable and home sick around christmas! cuz it’s just like you said… no christmas spirit, and couples everywhere!!!! gah! oh and i had to work, which really sucked… since japan is not a christian country, it’s not a public holiday so we had school!! how fun…

    anyhow! i think it’s awesome you’re having a big party with your friends, and omg Martina, you made me so jealous talking about those cookies!! i want some!!!

    Merry Christmas, you guise! ^_-

  21. Awe i bet you guise do miss it! I feel like my city has grown less active with the christmas spirit over the years (less lights on houses, nobody wants to exchange gifts, and less decorations in stores), which is very saddening to me. I can’t imagine how you feel! However, feel free to express as much spirit to us as you would like! :D I’m sure we wouldn’t mind.
    (By the way did you get you hair cut Simon? the design looks good!)

  22. And if it’s Peru the party keeps going right on through to the epiphany on January 6th.

  23. I think that’s just because in countries and continents with very large Christian affiliations (like the U.S., Canada, Europe, South America, etc.) we associate Christmas as THE family holiday of the year. Korea has Christians, but Judeo-Christian values aren’t the foundation of the culture. Confucian values are. So Christmas doesn’t have that massive place in the calendar that it does in say, England. Other holidays serve as the big family holiday. So really, it’s only sad for the foreigners. I imagine Koreans abroad have that same melancholy when it’s New Year or Chuseok. I do think it’s funny that Christmas Eve is associated with a day for getting the nookie. That’s…very different from my Christmas Eve experiences.

  24. Die Hard is NOT the ultimate family holiday movie. The Godfather is. Ah yes, I remember it well. Going with my parents to see the Christmas lights, buying a special ornament for the tree. Coming home to hot cocoa, cookies, and carols and finally settling in as a family to watch The Godfather (I and II). True story.
    I like religious Christmas, with advent candles, midnight Mass and carols like O’ Holy Night. It’s so serene and beautiful.

  25. Oh my gosh~ I just had some eggnog latte from Starbucks like two days ago~~ AWESOME-NESS

  26. I live in the US, but for me christmas is more like in Korea I guess… I mean, we do have the decorated lights and the christmas spirit everywhere, but for the actual celebrating I do it with friends rather than family. I guess it’s because I’m not Christian and I don’t really have family here. And same with new years! So it’s basically parties with friends both times~

  27. My family watches “Die Hard” every Christmas too!

  28. I am pretty much a big Christmas Grinch so I wouldn’t miss all the side stuff. But being forever alone I don’t think the Korean version would be any better either. I am just glad I don’t have to go to church or any of that.

    But merry christmas Simon and Martina and may 2013 be an even better EYK year.

  29. what kind of hot toddys do you guys make? i was wondering if the recipe was universal, or there was an alternative to my mom’s….

  30. If you really want to shovel some snow you can come to my house and do it (we’re supposedly gonna have snow by Christmas! Yay!). We get the icy snow though, from it melting initially and then refreezing, so it takes like an hour to go 5 ft. Ok, maybe not that long. But still, it takes forever and is such a pain. I hate shoveling snow with a passion.

  31. I understand you guise a little bit. It’s been 4 years now that i don’t have a proper christmas holidays because of my exam ! I miss the christmas spirit. Fortunately, i’ll see my family on christmas eve, yeahhh !!! (sorry to brag ^^’)

    One question though, what is the eggnot ??

  32. Back in Canada how did you celebrate Christmas? In Canadian or Polish style?

    • It was actually convenient for us, because we celebrated both. We’d go to my parents’ house (Simon here) for Christmas Eve dinner, where we’d open Christmas presents and have our big dinner. Then we’d drive back to Martina’s parents’ place for the evening so we could wake up and celebrate Christmas morning. Win-win situation!

      • Oh~~ It’s really nice way of celebrating Christmas ^ ^ I really like Polish Christmas traditions when you gather with your family during Christmas Eve~ But it would be nice to celebrate it twice :D *sends some virtual Polish Christmas atmosphere*

        • That’s the way my German side of my family celebrated Christmas! The whole family gathers in Grandma and Grandpa’s place Christmas eve and does a gift exchange and a big dinner and then they do Christmas morning at their respective homes and then a big family lunch Christmas day. Maybe that’s a European (probably Eastern European) tradition?

        • We do the same in Portugal. Also, many people go to the mass to celebrate christmas eve.=)

    • Probably a mix of both. The cool thing about Canada is that we’re a mosaic of cultures, and even in people’s background. So there might be Polish food incorporated into the big family dinner, or special Polish snacks (most cultural integration means food~). Um, I believe that Martina is Ukranian(?), and from my experience some Ukranian families go to midnight mass, so they go to a Ukranian church and pray on Christmas eve. As well, Canada has a province, Quebec, who are predominantly French and these Quebeckers have very unique traditions. The go ice skating on Rideau Canal (largest natural ice skating rink in the world, it’s several kilometers long), and they have this delicious cake that represents the yule log (special sort of log that people make wishes on and then burn). There’s tons more, but more-or-less food and family traditions are incorporated into Christmas celebrations, and what one Polish-Canadian family may celebrate may be very different from of what another Polish-Canadian family will celebrate.

      • Coldness at Christmas just…confuses me. I live in Australia and so Christmas means gaudy lights, barbecues, and a pool to spend the day in with the family. I celebrate Christmas breakfast with my mum’s family who have a traditional Scottish Christmas morning, waking up and opening presents and then we go to my stepdads family where we have the pool and the prawns on a BBQ, beer and more presents, but most of them get incorporated into different fun games. Christmas is so different everywhere.

        • Thank you for this! I teach ESL and I always try to explain what different countries do during Christmas time (I’m from the States) but I had no idea what people in Australia did. Pool and barbeques! I like it!

  33. Hi^^ I’m from France, and I don’t really feel the spirit of Christmas at home either. Maybe because I don’t live in a big town like Paris, but in stores and in the streets, except for the light put up by the town itself it really isn’t very christmassy (how do I write this word ?).

    I’ve never sat on Santa laps, and nobody sing christmas carols here. Oh and people who hang out christmas light outside their home are considered so lame here ! I never understood why people find it pretty, it’s usually so tacky and not very well done.

    For the food, eggnog really sound really weird, it doesn’t exist here – for Christmas we usually have meat/seafood and foie gras <3 and Ice cream ! yeah o/

    Anyway, still celebrating it with my family (since I come from a religious family).

    After all these usefull information (yeah right), I wish you two a Merry Christmas and a Happy new year :)

    • I’m from france too. And it’s true that if you don’t live in big city like bordeaux, marseille, lyon or paris for example, the christmas spirit isn’t really easy to see :).

      I do think it’s pretty, seeing the light outside the home, when it’s not overwhelming, you know.
      Ahahahah anyway, i’m glad i’m not the only wondering about the eggnog. I have no idea what this is !

  34. hehehe SHINee’s Juliette HO~…ho! ho! ho! Me~rry Christmas…….love from SHINee’s Minho, ho! ho! ho!
    ahahahahaha….no i’m not high…..HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! say LA! LA! LA! LA! LA!
    anyway….
    i’ve always wondered what eggnog was! i’ve always seen it in Christmas movies and never remembered to google it!!
    bwahahahaha whoa!!! never thought Christmas Eve was ever seen like that before…..
    do tell us if your guards appreciate your cookies!!!! they’re the vampire guards right? or were they ‘idol-like’? oh i forgot!

  35. MERRY CHRISTMAS GUISE!!!!

    In Malaysia, it’s pretty much the same as in Korea but it’s not about couples though. All the shopping malls will be decorated and there’ll be discounted items, stores selling Christmassy stuff etc. Even hospitals decorate! Some houses decorate them with lights but since there’s a lot of people who are not Christians here, I can’t say that there’s a lot of decoration going on. But it’s still quite jolly here! :D

  36. ahhh you guys just made me depressed!! i’m in Korea for Christmas, and everyone i know is going home a couple days before. I’m going to be all alone~~ D:
    can i spend christmas with you :3

  37. I actually watched your old Christmas video a couple of days ago lol x3

    Anyway, I’m sorry that you guys aren’t feeling the Christmas spirit :( I would mail you a giant evergreen tree if I could. and I’d string Christmas lights around Seoul.

  38. So… Simon likes to sing Birthday Sex in the noraebang…
    Oooh, you so nasty~

  39. I live in 충북 and I saw a christmas tree field! Not too sure about Seoul….I’m sure there must be some places….if anything, I’m sure the internet will have something and they can deliver it to you (behold, the nation of deliveries!! haha)

    The major difference in my opinion is Christmas in Korea is more friends/boyfriend centered rather than the family-centered Christmas in America or Canada. Being single on Christmas is a big deal in Korea….(all the single ladies put your hands up…..? ㅠㅠ) they’re even having this event in Gangnam (I think! I don’t remember) where women dress in red and stand on one side of the street and the men wear white and stand on the other side and when they call time, they run towards each other to find a date for the night! LOL

    Another difference is New Years: Korea is family centered whereas the States is friends centered. (Because of these flip-flops, I’ve had many a fights with my old-school-Korean mother……ㅡㅡ)

    Hope your family is doing better and I will continue to keep them in my prayers!

  40. Honestly every time you say about Martina it sounds very Canadian… Very….

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