Asia Expat Guides: Various Christmas Traditions in Asia


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Moving to a new, foreign country is a daunting task which many expats find very overwhelming. At Asia Expat Guides, we understand your concerns and your specific needs as an expat. We routinely share articles and expat tips about moving to Asia at
In this particular slide, we compile the various Christmas Traditions in Asia.

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Asia Expat Guides: Various Christmas Traditions in Asia

  1. 1. Various Christmas Traditions in Asia A Guide for Expats in Asia By: Asia Expat Guides
  2. 2. • Christmas is not widely celebrated in China so the Christmas atmosphere here is probably not as grand as in other Asian countries like Japan, Singapore, or South Korea. However, if you stay in the major cities, you can still feel the Christmas atmosphere on some streets and shopping malls. • A unique Christmas tradition in China is giving apples on Christmas Eve due to word similarity of “Christmas Eve” (Ping An Ye) and apple (Ping Guo) in Chinese. So, if you„re an expat in China, you might consider giving away apples on Christmas Eve!
  3. 3. • There are only 2.3% of Indian populations who are Christians, so Christmas is not a really big celebration compared to other Indian festivals. What‟s unique about Christmas tradition in India is the mix between traditional/Western Christmas traditions with Indian traditions. For example, instead of decorating pine trees, many people would decorate a banana or mango tree at their homes. They might also use mango leaves to decorate their homes, just like they would do in Diwali festival (Indian New Year or Festival of Lights). • So, are you ready to enliven your house with decorated banana or mango tree this Christmas?
  4. 4. • • Although only about one percent of people are Christians, Christmas is celebrated widely in Japan, because it is known as more of the time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Peculiarly, Christmas Eve is thought of as a romantic day just like Valentine‟s Day, when couples spend Christmas Eve together and exchange presents. If you‟re planning to have a Christmas Eve meal at a restaurant, make sure to book in advance because restaurants are usually full of lovebirds having a romantic meal. There is also another unique Christmas tradition in Japan which is a mix between traditional/Western Christmas with Japanese culture. Instead of having Santa Claus, there‟s a Buddhist monk called Hotei-osho who brings presents to each house and leaves them for the children on Christmas Eve; although this Japanese god of good fortune is from Buddhism and not really related to Christmas.
  5. 5. • • Christians make up about 25-30% of the population in South Korea, so you‟ll be able to feel Christmas in the air if you‟re an expat in South Korea. During the holiday seasons, expect to see lights all over the city, especially if you stay in Seoul. Department stores are competing to display the grandest Christmas decorations and the city center is fully decorated with lights, even along the bridges over Han River. Going to Church for Christmas is becoming a popular tradition, even among non Christians. At home, Christian families would have a traditional Christmas trees and exchange presents on Christmas day. Uniquely, the popular present in South Korea is money! Giving actually gifts has become more popular, but giving money is still very common, so don‟t feel offended if you receive money for Christmas.
  6. 6. • • Although Christians are not a majority in Singapore, Singapore goes crazy for Christmas. Christmas time in Singapore is largely a secular event that takes place not at home but in malls and restaurants around the city. Highly influenced by the Western nations, Christmas in Singapore is similar to Christmas in the Western countries, such as the concept of turkey dinner and the exquisite decorations of Christmas. In Singapore, you will experience a sort of refreshing festive mood in the air. There are many types of programs and events like music performances, extravagant shopping sale, cruises, extensive lighting, caroling, parades, concerts, traditional dance shows and many more such types of events. For an overwhelming dose of Christmas cheer, head to Singapore‟s shopping street of Orchard Road. This two-kilometer stretch is so spectacularly decorated they run nightly “Orchard Road Christmas Light Up” open-top bus tours and every mall has a Christmas tree or two, often made from materials like candy, jewels, ribbons, and even teddy bears.
  7. 7. • Being away from your friends and family and celebrating Christmas in a strange land must be very tough. Tasks like shopping the best ingredients for Christmas dinner, ordering food from the best catering companies or shopping the best gifts for your family might seem like mountainous tasks because you are not familiar with your new neighborhood. • You can have a nice, memorable Christmas at your home away from home in Asia! We can assist you in your preparations like shopping for groceries or Christmas gifts, making dinner reservations in the best place in town or catering reservation for Christmas dinner at your new home, and so on. • Have an enjoyable holiday with Asia Expat Guides!
  8. 8. For more information about being an expat in Asia, visit