Christmas has been adopted by many Asian cultures in recent decades, but South Korea is one of the few Asian nations where it is an actual public holiday. The reason is clear: South Korea has a large Christian population that makes up around 25 or 30 percent of its people.
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People get off work and out of school for Christmas Day, but they have to return the very next day. There isn’t a long Christmas season break like in Western countries. The long winter break comes around New Year’s instead.
On Christmas Day, many Korean churches will be lit up with Christmas lights and may have a neon cross on top of the building. People will attend services on Christmas Day, and the Christmas story and the Gospel will be presented.
Shopping malls and city streets will be lit up for Christmas too. Seoul’s lights display is particularly large and elaborate. “Grandfather Santa” may sport either a red or blue suit in South Korea. While gift-giving is gaining popularity, most people just give money. Christmas trees at home are also on the rise but still not that common. The most significant Christmas food in Korea is “Christmas Cake”, which typically means sponge cake smothered in ice cream.
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