Christmas is the biggest celebration all around the world commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ.
However, in Asia, the majority of the people are Buddhist and therefore do not celebrate Christmas. In Cambodia, for example, 97% of the population is Buddhist.
So how is it to travel in Asia at this time of the year? Would you travel to an Asian country without true Christmas cheer and spirit?
Let's take a tour of Asia and see what really is happening...
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No tinsels or bubbles, but Chinese home are decorated with paper lantern throughout December. Because only 1% of people are Christians, Christmas day is considered a normal day over there. In big cities, you will see Christmas trees and lights on the streets and department stores. Santa Claus is called "Shen Dan Lao Ren" and Christmas tree or "tree of light" will be decorated with mini lanterns and paper flowers, lanterns and chains.
Again, Christmas is not widely celebrated and is considered a time to spread happiness all around. Japanese home are decorated with evergreens. According to a Japanese legend, Santa San or Santa Kurosu has eyes behind his head so he could watch around all the kids and see whom has been good or naughty... A Western habit has made it to Japan and in 2005, 1 in 3 Japanese are eating fast food fried chicken on Christmas Eve.
In South Korea, Christmas is celebrated more widely than in any other Asian countries as about 25-30% of people are Christians. Christmas is an official public holiday and going to Church is becoming more and more popular.
Santa is called "Ong gia Noel" which means Christmas old man. Because Vietnam used to be part of the French Empire, you can find a lot of french influences in the Christmas traditions. People celebrate on Christmas Eve called "reveillon" like in France and a traditional "buche de Noel" (a traditional French chocolate cake log) is eaten for desert or given as a gift.
Christians in India love to celebrate Christmas especially in Goa. There are lots of Western customs: go carol singing around the neighbors, put up a Christmas tree and eat the traditional Christmas fruit cake. Most Christian families also have a Nativity scene play and a roast turkey or chicken is eaten for the Christmas meal.
Wherever you are, Christmas is a wonderful time to spread happiness.
Happy Christmas time x