It's the most beautiful time of the year ya'll! So, build your Christmas tree, sing carols, and learn Korean Christmas Greetings 메리 크리스마스 meri keuriseumaseu!
The Christmas season is definitely one of the most awaited holidays of the year for Christians. Christmas is an annual festival celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, celebrated by billions of people around the world predominantly on the 25th of December as a religious and cultural celebration.
The cold breeze, the beautiful lights, decorations, shopping sales, and most of all, the sense of giving are the Christmas vibes that we are used to. But aside from these beautiful things you can see around, the most important thing is to spend time with your loved ones.
During the holiday season, people spend Christmas day with their family and close friends. Giving gifts, having fun, going to church and just being with each other is indeed the best way to celebrate Christmas.
Every country has its own way of celebrating Christmas, but we will talk about the Korean way of celebrating Christmas in this lesson. So, prepare yourself to learn some Korean words and phrases related to Christmas and, most of all, Korean Christmas greetings.
You know it's already the Christmas season in South Korea when you see Santa Claus everywhere, Christmas lights shining throughout the whole streets, and you discount sales in different shopping malls. Of course, the Christmas season in South Korea is not complete without hearing Christmas songs sung by different K-pop idols like IU's cover of Santa Tell Me, Twice's Merry, Happy Exo's What I Want For Christmas, and BTS' version of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town. But, In South Korea, Christmas is not solely about religion.
Koreans do not know Christianity until the 17th century. There is no majority religious group in South Korea. Its population comprises a plurality of people who do not identify with any religion (46%) as well as considerable numbers of Christians (29%) and Buddhists (23%). If you think about the number of Christians in Korea, it will not be a surprise that the spirit of Christmas is really alive during the holiday season. So, what's Christmas in South Korea be like?
Christmas in South Korea is as a national holiday. In fact, it is the only country among East Asian countries that consider it as a holiday. Even in North Korea, where having a religion is prohibited, Christmas is just a simple day. South Koreans celebrate Christmas day but not to the extent that they will travel all the way from the city to their families who live in the province. Most Koreans will spend Christmas with their friends and partners. In fact, some considered Christmas in Korea as "Another Valentine's Day with Santa."
Christmas preparation in South Korea starts in November, unlike in the Philippines, which is another Asian country with a large Christian population. Did you know that the Philippines, which is the largest Christian country in Asia, have the longest Christmas season starting from September? In Korea, September is still the Autumn season, so it's pretty much different. Since it is a national holiday in South Korea, there is no such thing as a "Christmas Vacation." So, if you're a student or a teacher, you'll go back to school on the 26th of December, same with the employees.
The usual Christmas food is not found in Korean cuisine. Foreigners who really miss their traditional Christmas food can look for restaurants that sell Western-style Christmas food. Usually, there are lots of restaurants like that in Itaewon. But, since you're in South Korea, why not try to celebrate Christmas in a Korean way? If you want, you can still enjoy the traditional Korean winter dishes like the following:
The Christmas season will never be complete without the traditional Christmas songs and carols. When we speak about songs, nobody can ever pull that off perfectly aside from their award-winning K-pop idols. Usually, Korean groups and solo artists release songs for Christmas with love, giving, and sharing as the main theme. This will be played all over South Korea, like in shopping malls, parks, and other public places. You can also hear some western Christmas music that K-pop artists cover, like IU and BTS.
One of the things that will make you feel the spirit of Christmas is the decorations. Usually, Korean families create their own trees in their homes. Outside, buildings and houses have Christmas lights that look really wonderful. The trees from big shopping centers are wonderfully decorated. Christmas decoration in South Korea is cheap. You can buy it at the local stores.
Koreans will not go overboard on spending too much to buy Christmas gifts for everybody. But, if you have money, this is a perfect season to buy something because most of the shopping malls are on holiday sales. But if you don't have, sending Christmas cards is enough to make their loved ones feel that they did not forget them during the holiday season. The themes of their Christmas cards are more inclined with nature which represents peace and warmth.
Even if it is not that widely celebrated, unlike other countries, Koreans have their own ways of making their Christmas with their families, friends, and partners, extra special. Here are some fun ideas to consider:
Now that we know a little about the culture of South Korea during Christmas let us now learn some Korean vocabulary related to Christmas. Before we learn how to say Merry Christmas in Korean, let us learn first the following words:
The Korean word for Christmas is "크리스마스 (Keuriseumaseu)." It is easy to remember because it almost sounds like the English word for Christmas. But, take note that this form of Korean word is informal.
This is the formal way of saying Christmas in the Korean language. When learning Korean, learn their politeness level because it is a sign of respect. In Korean culture, they really value politeness determined by their hierarchy, so be careful with a word or phrase that you want to say.
This is the Korean word for "Christmas eve." During the night of the 24th of December, families gather around to welcome the 25th of December at 12:00 am. In other countries, this is where eating with the whole family, and gift-giving occurs. They also do it in Korea, but not everyone has the opportunity to do this since some have their families in the province.
Now that you have learned many things about South Korean Christmas let's learn some Korean Christmas greetings. Remember, there are different ways to say Merry Christmas in Korean. Although the thought is the same, it differs from where you will use it and to whom you are talking. Koreans talk differently depending on whom they are talking to. That is why these Korean Christmas greetings will be divided into three categories.
The first is the standard form. Standard form is the most used form of Korean spoken language because it is not too formal but not too informal either to sound rude. Notice the Hangul Character 요 (yo). It is added at the end to make it more polite than the informal one. Here are the standard Korean Christmas greetings.
The first Korean Christmas greeting that we will learn is 크리스마스 잘 보내세요 (Keuriseumaseu Jal Bonaeseyo). This is a friendly and polite form of greetings that you can use literally for everyone. Like what is stated above, they don't have Christmas vacation, so Christmas is celebrated only a day because it is a national holiday.
You may also hear 크리스마스 잘 보내요 (keuriseumaseu jal bonaeyo), which has the same meaning but without extra politeness. The Korean character 세 (se) is removed, making it less polite than the first one. But, it is still nice to use the first one.
The next Korean Christmas greeting that we will learn is 휴일 잘 즐기세요! (Hyuil Jal Jeulgiseyo!). If you are looking for an alternative that doesn't mention "Christmas," this is perfect for you.
Saying "Happy Holidays" (행복한 휴일 보내세요! | Haengbokan Hyuil Bonaeseyo!) is another Korean Christmas greetings that you can say without saying the word "Christmas." It can also be helpful in greeting someone who doesn't celebrate Christmas in their own religion or faith.
The formal form of Korean spoken language is used when talking with people in a higher social hierarchy than you. This includes the elderly, your boss, and people who are older than you. Here are two ways to Merry Christmas in Korean using the formal form
If you're new to Korean culture and you still don't have a strong grasp of their native language, it is safe to use the formal version. This is the most formal Korean Christmas greeting that you can use for all types of age groups.
The word 행복하다 (haengbokada) means happy and 크리스마스 (keuriseumaseu) is Christmas. Take a look at the Korean character –십시오 (sipsio) in the ending. This is what makes it so polite. You can also use and see this in cards and posters being sent by people.
Another formal Korean Christmas greetings that you should learn is 즐거운 성탄절 보내십시오 (Jeulgeoun Seongtanjeol Bonaesipsio). Let's take a look at what do the characters mean. 즐겁다(jeulgeopda) means pleasant, 성탄 (seongtan) means the sacred birth, and 성탄절 (seongtanjeol) means Christmas. This is the perfect phrase to use when you're not in a formal situation.
The informal form of spoken Korean is used for people who have the same age as you, close friends, or upon agreement. Here are the informal Korean Christmas greetings to learn for this lesson.
This is the easiest version of the Korean Christmas greeting that you can learn when you are a foreigner. It is so close to the English translation. But, you have to know that this is also widely used in Korea. Since it is from the English language, it doesn't have the politeness indicator, so this is not exactly informal.
This is the informal version of the Korean Christmas greetings found in standard form #1. Notice the absence of the ending character, which indicates politeness.
Of course, this lesson will not be complete without learning some Christmas and holiday vocabulary.
|Hangul (Korean)||Romanization||English Translation|
|산타 클로스||santa keulloseu||Santa Claus|
|루돌프 사슴코||rudolpeu saseumko||Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer|
|꼬마 요정||kkoma yojeong||elf|
|크리스마스 종||keuriseumaseu jong||bell|
|루미네이션||rumineisyeon||Christmas lights, Christmas decorations|
|크리스마스 카드||keuriseumaseu kadeu||Christmas card|
|크리스마스 캐롤||keuriseumaseu kaerol||Christmas carol|
|크리스마스 트리||keuriseumaseu teuri||Christmas tree|
|화이트 크리스마스||hwaiteu keuriseumaseu||White Christmas|
|선물||seonmul||present / gift|
|칠면조 고기||chilmyeonjo gogi||turkey|
|크리스마스 양말||keuriseumaseu yangmal||stocking|
|사탕 지팡이||satang jipangi||candy cane|
|호랑 가시 나무||horang gasi namu||holly|
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