Each year Christmas decorations appear in more stores and businesses in South Korea, especially Seoul. Nevertheless, in Korea, Christmas is seen as a distinctly Christian holiday. In contrast, in America, Christmas finds even non-Christians singing about snowmen, jingle bells, Santa Claus, and yuletide cheer.
So, how do Korean Christians celebrate Christmas?
Like in many American churches, on Christmas Eve the Korean congregations and its youth often have a traditional Christmas pageant as part service, but that service usually lasts for hours.
Interestingly, after the service from about midnight until 5 am (on Christmas morning), church youth often break into small groups and go caroling at the homes of the congregation. It is traditional that when they hear the carolers outside their home, Korean Christians open the door and listen to the songs. Then the family invites the entire group into their home for hot drinks and snacks. After catching an hour or two of sleep, the teens and families return to church at 11 am on Christmas Day for the traditional Christmas worship service.
The worship is followed by a traditional Christmas dinner usually served at the church. The meal is often a hot bowl of rice cake soup served with kimch’i.
For those who wish to say “Merry Christmas”…
There are two Merry Christmas greetings
Sung tan jul chuk ha or Christmas bo nae say oh
Sae hae bok mani ba deu say oh! (Happy Holidays)