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Who’s ready for the holiday season? Even in the warmer months, I’ve always looked forward to Christmas as it reminds me of being with my family back home in the states. It also meant great food and the feeling of exchanging presents. Here in Korea, Hyo has always tried to recreate that feeling since I’m away from home and I really appreciate it. With that said, let’s tell you how to say Merry Christmas in Korean!
메리 크리스마스! (me-ri keu-ri-seu-ma-seu)
This is the most common way Koreans will say Merry Christmas. It is basically a Konglish version of Merry Christmas and even if you don’t know any Korean whatsoever, you will understand the greeting when Koreans say it (with the strong Konglish accent).
What are some other versions you might hear? The form above is considered informal and while you will probably have no problem saying it to most people, it’s good to know some other polite versions.
크리스마스 잘 보내세요 (keu-ri-seu-ma-seu jal bo-nae-se-yo)
In this version of the greeting, you can see the word Christmas is still used and after that you will see a common send off Koreans like to use when they say goodbye. “잘 보내세요”loosely translated means to enjoy your time well.
For more Christmas words, check out an infographic we did here.
Do Koreans Celebrate Christmas?
When people visit South Korea during December or come here to live for awhile as an expat, one of the first things they are always curious about is if Koreans celebrate Christmas. It’s kind of a yes and no answer.
Back home where I’m from, Christmas is probably the biggest holiday of the year. Families get together to eat, exchange presents, and enjoy extended time off from work. Traditions are deeply embedded from years of being passed down from other family members and let’s not forgot the tons of Christmas movies and songs you will hear after Thanksgiving.
In Korea, it’s slightly different. Christmas was never a traditional holiday in its history. It wasn’t until South Korea started to modernize and be exposed to Western culture that the Christmas holiday celebrations started gaining traction. You can also thank the influence of Christianity on the country had a big part in more people celebrating it. Over the years, it gained prominence and the day officially became a holiday with time off work. For young people, it somehow became a tradition of a big day for couples to go out and date.
It seems like very year, more Koreans celebrate the holiday and lots of places decorate with trees and lights.
Korean Christmas Traditions
There aren’t really any big Christmas traditions for most Koreans (unlike Chuseok and Seollal). For Christians in the country, they usually go to church on Christmas eve and get together with their families on Christmas day. Lots of people also like watching Christmas movies. For others, they may go out on a date or hang with friends. The great things is that since celebrating Christmas is a fairly new concept, many people in the country are starting to make their own traditions now.
Korean Christmas Food
Just like traditions above, there is no typical Korean Christmas food. Most Koreans will eat a typical Korean meal, but it’s becoming a trend to go out for Western food or cook Western food at home. It’s a great excuse to go out and try some new foods you’ve never tried before.
Do North Koreans Celebrate Christmas?
Just like many holidays in North Korea, celebrating Christmas is not permitted. The country is strongly against organized religion and Christmas falls under that umbrella. You can find stories of defectors online who did not know what Christmas was nor who Jesus was until they were exposed to the outside world.
We hope this info has helped you and if you’re reading this near or on Christmas, we hope you have a 메리 크리스마스!