Christmas is quite famous in East Asian countries like China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea and Vietnam, as there are lots of followers of Christianity in these countries. Though the celebrations can be a little different from those in the western countries, the happiness and enthusiasm associated with the festival are at par, if not more. In these countries, Christians beautifully decorate the Christmas tree, which they often regard as the 'tree of light'. The tree is decorated with crafts made out of paper, like paper chains, flowers and lanterns. Christmas is a gala time for everyone, a time for a get together. Explore this article to discover more on East Asian Christmas traditions.
Christmas Celebrations In East Asia
Chinese Christians celebrate the festival as Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. The Christmas tree is decorated with paper crafts, like flowers, chains and lanterns that symbolize happiness. Windows are decorated with red pagodas and children hang their muslin stockings, so that Dun Che Lao Ren, or Christmas Old Man, can fill it with wonderful gifts. The tradition of sending cards on Christmas and exchanging gifts is quite similar to western celebrations.
Japan has less than 1% of its population as Christian, still Christmas celebration is quite popular in the country. Japanese celebrate Christmas with a special cake, often topped with white whipped cream and dressed with strawberries. There is no special feast for the day; rather people celebrate the day by doing social work and charity, like helping the sick and poor. With American influence, exchanging gifts and sending cards on Christmas became a part of celebration.
Koreans celebrate Christmas with much zeal and vigor and South Korea even recognizes it as a holiday. Exchange of gifts take place amongst both Christian and non-Christian people, with children eagerly waiting for Santa Haraboji (Grandfather Santa in Korean). There are also special prayer services held in churches, on Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
Christmas is one of the four most popular festivals of Vietnamese year and the celebration involves a midnight mass. Catholic churches are decorated with a big nativity scene, commonly known as creche, with life size statues of Jesus, Mother Mary, Joseph, animals and the guiding star. It is followed by the most important meal, known as Christmas supper. The dinner usually has chicken soup, turkey and Christmas pudding. Vietnamese decorate the Christmas tree according to European custom. The shoes are excitedly left outside the homes by children, so that their Santa Claus can fill them with gifts.