Connect with us

World

Christmas across Asia: How Thailand’s neighbours celebrate

Maya Taylor

Published

 on 

PHOTO: www.ministryofvillas.com

Those of us living in Thailand (and those who holiday here in more “normal” times), are familiar with what Christmas looks like in the Land of Smiles. But what about other Asian countries? Here’s a round-up of what the festive season looks like for some of our neighbours.

Indonesia
Despite being a primarily Muslim nation, Christmas is celebrated by many in Indonesia. A history of colonisation by European settlers means the country is home to a minority Christian population. In Bali, this community is found primarily in the south of the island, where it’s traditional to have a Christmas tree made of chicken feathers and streets decorated with yellow coconut leaves, known as penjor.

Fireworks are also a big part of Indonesia’s Christmas celebrations, with children often allowed to stay up all night on Christmas Eve watching the spectacle. About 10% of Indonesians identify as Christian.

China
Christmas is becoming more popular in China’s larger cities, due primarily to the influence of resident expats. While Chinese children don’t write to Santa, or leave him cookies and milk on Christmas Eve, “peace apples” are popular. These are decoratively-wrapped apples, which are given as gifts.

The reason behind this is apparently because the word for apple sounds like the words “peace” and “Christmas Eve” in Mandarin. Travel outside the big cities however, and into the Chinese heartland, and you will meet people who have had far less interaction with Westerners, and for whom Christmas remains a mystery. This is particularly true of the older generation.

South Korea
South Korea is one of a few Asian countries in which Christmas Day is a public holiday, with around 29% of the country’s population being Christian. Despite Christmas being a “newish” holiday, South Koreans have their own version of Father Christmas, known as Santa Haraboji (Grandfather Santa). While similar to the Western version we’re familiar with, South Korea’s Santa wears a green suit and tops it off with a gat, the traditional Korean hat.

Japan
The Japanese see Christmas as an opportunity to spread good luck and happiness, rather than as a religious festival. Christmas Eve is the main event, when romantic couples traditionally exchange presents. Although Christmas Day is not a public holiday, December 23 is, as it celebrates the Emperor’s birthday.

As with many parts of the world, Christmas is also an excuse for shopping, with brightly-decorated malls filled with people looking for gifts for family and friends.

Malaysia
Being the multicultural melting pot it is, Malaysia celebrates Malay, Chinese, Eurasian and Indian festivals throughout the year, and Christmas is no exception. Christmas Day is a public holiday, but the festive season takes on a more commercial aspect with lesser focus on the religious aspects in the majority Muslim country. Shopping malls in big cities like Kuala Lumpur start getting ready well in advance and you can expect to see them all decorated with giant Christmas trees, Santa figures, and twinkling lights.

SOURCE: Asia Exchange

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

image

Join the conversation and have your say on Thailand news published on The Thaiger.

Thaiger Talk is our new Thaiger Community where you can join the discussion on everything happening in Thailand right now.

Please note that articles are not posted to the forum instantly and can take up to 20 min before being visible. Click for more information and the Thaiger Talk Guidelines.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Ray

    Friday, December 25, 2020 at 4:14 pm

    You forgot Vietnam. There are quite a lot of Christians in the country. Christmas is celebrated although it is not a national holiday. However, festive decorations are getting more popular each year.
    Funny anecdote. When the missionaries arrived in the country they had trouble of teaching the concept of the holy trinity. Presumably there weren’t any white doves in Vietnam or the local people confused it with the legendary phoenix. You have to admit the inventiveness of the first Clerics to spread the word. They used a white dog instead to represent the holy spirit. Although I never seen it depicted in a church I have been told that it is still worshipped today in some places.

    • Avatar

      Chipemberi

      Saturday, December 26, 2020 at 1:06 am

      Bit dicey to be an Xmas dog in Vietnam… Chances are you’ll be served up for Xmas lunch

  2. Avatar

    Boo

    Saturday, December 26, 2020 at 1:11 am

    You intentionally did not include the Philippines and Vietnam or Cambodia which are all closer to Thailand. How annoying!

  3. Avatar

    Geoff

    Monday, February 1, 2021 at 5:07 am

    I love that Christmas is celebrated in a lot of countries, but with many, it’s not about religion, but about business and trade.
    It is also indicative of how misguided political correctness is and how it is ruining parts of daily life – remember all the “can’t celebrate because it will offend Muslims” etc?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A seasoned writer, with a degree in Creative Writing. Over ten years' experience in producing blog and magazine articles, news reports and website content.

Follow Thaiger by email:

Best of2 hours ago

Phuket’s 5 most family-friendly resorts

Transport2 hours ago

Transport Company announces bus services are suspended until August 31

Thailand4 hours ago

Thailand News Today | 29 provinces now on curfew, booze ban in Phuket

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Insurgency5 hours ago

Volunteer ranger killed in grenade attack by suspected insurgents

Best of5 hours ago

Top 5 Spas in Koh Samui

Thailand5 hours ago

Hemp ice cream hits the Thai market

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Chon Buri6 hours ago

Chon Buri sets local order, restaurants in malls to only offer food for delivery

Thailand6 hours ago

Samut Prakan man dies in fire, possibly self-inflicted

Thailand7 hours ago

Royal Thai Police say bitterleaf can’t cure Covid

Coronavirus (Covid-19)7 hours ago

Tuesday Covid Update: 18,901 new cases, provincial totals

Thailand8 hours ago

Air Asia technician arrested for allegedly stealing electronics

Pattaya8 hours ago

“Pattaya Move On” reopening likely to be postponed as Covid cases surge

Thailand8 hours ago

3 metre long python caught near family’s house in Phuket

Thailand10 hours ago

Government says not to buy Favipiravir/Avigan online, says it might be fake

Phuket10 hours ago

Phuket bans alcohol sales at restaurants, issues order amid rise of Covid cases

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism5 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand5 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism5 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand6 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Southern floods, Face mask fines, Thai Air Asia woes | January 8

Trending