I do love me some Christmastime and though back home I'd have started getting in the spirit (and plastering the house in decorations) right after Thanksgiving, it's taken a little longer in my new surroundings to get my Cindy Lou Who on. Yesterday though Incheon was treated to a late morning surprise:
The Christmas season is wonderful even if there isn't a flurry in sight but snow always adds something special.
I took these from my apartment window. It doesn't snow too much here or accumulate when it does and this mini blizzard lasted about fifteen more minutes. There were flakes off and on for the rest of the day but this was basically the highlight. Pretty while it lasted though!
So the powers of snow, hot cocoa, and a Christmas songs mix which includes everything from Nat King Cole to Dominick the Donkey have combined to bring me the yuletide spirit in Korea.
In South Korea Christmas is recognized as a national holiday. Though nearly half of the population doesn't affiliate with any religion and under a quarter practice Buddhism, almost thirty percent are Christian so it is a holiday that's celebrated by a lot of people here. Some of the traditions are similar, like gift giving though it's done to a much smaller extent, but for the most part it's a more subdued holiday. New Year here is very family oriented and so Christmas is often a holiday celebrated among friends or with your sweetheart. I think they air some of the American Christmas specials like Charlie Brown and Rudolph on TV here though I don't have cable yet so I can't speak from having seen any.
I've seen plenty of holiday decorations and displays over the last couple weeks so here's just a quick peek at how Christmas in Korea looks:
A Christmas store in Namdaemun Market.
Poster for a concert/show taking place at the Arts Center.
Charlie Brown-esque tree.
Window decals at a Paris Baguette, a delicious bakery that's on practically every corner. Their whole slogan for this season is "You Are Not Alone" which seems well intentioned but strikes me as funny anyway. Apparently Christmas sponge cakes are popular in Korea so they're out in all the pastry shops. The Paris Baguette commercials show some guy picking out a snowman cake for his girlfriend while someone sings "Youuu are not alooone". It has to be better than fruit cakes, am I right?
Santa Claus, what a Renaissance man.
I don't have definitive plans in place for Christmas yet but I know something will work itself out. Until then I'm just enjoying the bits and pieces of holiday cheer I see when I'm out and about. Hope everyone is having a happy holiday season so far!
Trivia of the Day: Manhwa (만화) is the general Korean term for comics and print cartoons. Outside of Korea, the term usually refers specifically to South Korean comics. Though Korea's manhwa system developed later, the manga (Japanese comics) and manhwa industries can now be considered equal competitors, like "different brands of the same product." The relative obscurity of Korean culture in the Western world has caused the word "manhwa" to remain somewhat unknown in the English-speaking world. Instead, English translations of manhwa have achieved success by targeting the manga and anime community, to the extent that manhwa are often marketed as "manga."