Get it started

Last week, it was the first time for me to spend Christmas and its holidays in Korea. Frankly speaking, it was nothing special. Besides sales events and some fancy light decoration here and there, Korean people seemed not to pay too much attention to this time of the year.

There is quite a high percentage of Christians among them and therefore I expected that Christmas has quite a high value for them. However, it turned out to be not much more than an opportunity for shops to give discounts or restaurants to offer special menus.


Celebrating New Year turned out to be pretty much the same. First of all, lighting fireworks are not allowed at all and so there was no sound from firecrackers. The sky was not coloured with countless rockets. As a positive side effect, there were no leftovers of these fireworks and the air was clean and fresh rather than mixed with the smell of burned paper and chemicals.

The only difference compared to any other evening was an event at a historical site near my home which started at midnight. There is a big bell pavilion in walking distance which gives the entire district its name. At midnight on New Year’s Eve it is rung traditionally and many people come together for that event. You can even apply for ringing the bell.


Since I did not want to stay at home for the entire evening, I went outside for a walk. But as I passed by the bell pavilion two hours after midnight, everyone had left and the organisation team was about to deconstruct the lights, speakers and signs they had put up for this event. All other places were also not crowded with people and Seoul seemed to be taking a breath at night as most of the other days during the year.


To sum it up, Christmas and New Year’s Eve are not much special here in Korea from a western perspective. If you are used to celebrate these dates and they are important for you, you should consider spending this time of the year rather in western countries. If you want to stay away from all the rush and stress for preparation of a perfect Christmas and New Year’s Eve, South Korea is a good choice for you.

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