Despite many similarities to how Christmas is celebrated in the West, Christian Koreans still put their own cultural spin on the holiday. Christmas, or Sung Tan Jul as it is called in Korea, is considered primarily a religious holiday, so although some families do put up a Christmas tree and exchange presents, most of the celebration revolves around attending mass on Christmas Eve or Christmas day.
Santa Harabujee is very popular with Korean children and gives out presents to children wearing a red or blue suit. Around the holiday season, many stores employ Santas to hand out chocolates and candies to shoppers. Some families celebrate Christmas dinner with gatherings at home but traditionally many Korean families prefer to go out for dinner.
Christmas, considered a romantic holiday for couples, is one of the busiest days of the year for restaurants. One of the major differences between Christmas in the West and Christmas in Korea is that often times in Korea Christmas is a time to celebrate and party with friends and their significant other, especially for younger people, and New Year’s is the holiday spent with family. Christmas presents are exchanged on Christmas Eve and rather than receiving piles of presents, it is customary for people to each receive one present, often times a gift of money.