Christmas in South Korea

While the beginning of December is a joyous time during which we look forward with great expectation to a sea and bush holiday and Christmas lists compiled by the little ones, it is also a time of deep longing and nostalgia. At Christmas time we always think of our children and grandchildren or brothers and sisters who continue with their own celebrations on the other side of the world. This week we talked to Hilde Conradie to find out how she will celebrate Christmas in Chi Minh, Vietnam.

This year I will be celebrating Christmas in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, specific plans for the day are still uncertain, but their definitely will be time to make a video call home to spend a little bit of the day with my people. Technology helps one feel, for a moment, as if you are not so far away.

Seeing that I, and many of my friends, will not be in Korea over Christmas I decided to hold a potluck supper at my house the weekend before Christmas. The guest list is made up of some of my closets friends here in Korea, the friends who have become family. These friends are from across the world: Two Canadians, four Americans, an Irishman, a Brit, and three South Africans! An official sign-up sheet has been made so that everyone can see who is bringing what.

The menu is:

 Hors d’oeuvres

Charcuterie board

Main course

Three kinds of meat
Couscous and roasted vegetable salad
Potato bake
Stuffing and gravy
Macaroni and cheese 
Creamed leeks


Peach pie


Mulled wine
Spiked hot chocolate

Each guest has also been asked to bring a white elephant gift, and to dress as festive as possible.

Koreans have Chuseok (Korean Thanksgiving) and Seollal (Lunar New Year) that they spend with their families. Christmas is seen more as a time to spend with your family and loved ones.

The streets are indeed still filled with beautiful Christmas decorations and lights and all shops play Christmas songs.

For me Christmas does not have the same feeling as it does at home. I am not sure if it is because I am getting older, or if it is because I am not with my people. But there is indeed something special in spending it with a group of friends who are all in the same boat as me. Everyone longs to be home, but we make the best of it by sharing our traditions and customs with each other, and in this way supporting each other and making one another feel better.

ALSO READ: Christmas – Who’s up for a piece of fish?

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