Christmas in Korea with Esther Julee | 12 Days of Christmas Around the World Day 10 Culture & Cuisine / Culture & History / Language Resources / Travel

About the Contributor // I want to extend a huge thanks to Esther Julee of Local Adventurer for helping me research this post! Esther is a photographer and blogger currently based in San Diego, California where she writes about her travels along with her husband Jacob.

A History of Christmas in Korea

Korea began celebrating Christmas as a holiday in the year 1949. Since the country used to primarily be practice Buddhism, it wasn’t until missionaries came to Korea and converted many into Christians in the 19th and 20th century that Christmas was celebrated. There was no holiday similar to Christmas in Korea prior to that.

How it is Celebrated Today

Christmas is celebrated very similarly to how it’s celebrated in the US, but not quite to the same degree. Not as many people put up Christmas trees or lights, getting into the Christmas spirit by listening to only Christmas music, etc., but you will see malls or other buildings decorated. And they do exchange gifts!

While there aren’t any dishes specific to Christmas meals, there are the ever popular Christmas cakes, a sponge cake covered in cream and elaborate decorations, often purchased from a local bakery. Ice cream cakes are also a popular alternative. These cakes are often elaborately decorated and can be quite beautiful!

Christmas Vocabulary in Korean

Korean Transliteration English
크리스마스 keu ri seu ma seu Christmas
메리 크리스마스! mae ri keu ri seu ma seu Merry Christmas
해피 하누카! hae pi ha noo ka Happy Hanukkah
성탄절 seong tan juhl Christmas day
산타 클로스 san ta keul lo seu Santa Claus (also 산타 할아버지 san ta ha ra bo jee
아기예수 ah gi yeh soo baby Jesus
행복한 휴일 보내세요! haeng bok han hyu il bo nae sae yo happy holidays
새해 복 많이 받으세요! sae hae bok man ii bo nae sae yo blessings in the new year!
nun / noon snow
눈싸움 noon ssa oom snowball fight
눈사람 nun sa ram snowman
눈송이 noon song i snowflake
선물 seon mul present
아이스 스케이팅 ai seu seu kae ting ice skating
겨울 guy ool winter
추운 choo oon cold
벽난로 byeog nan ro fireplace
썰매타기 sseol mae tah gi sledding
얼음 eor sum ice
크리스마스 트리 ker ree ser ma ser ter ree Christmas Tree
루돌프 사슴코 ru dol peu sa seum ko Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
북극 buk geuk North Pole
그린치 geu rin chi Grinch
케이크 cae ee ker cake
순록 sun nok reindeer
크리스마스 양말 keu ri seu ma seu yang mal stocking

korean-christmas-cake

Korean Christmas Cakes
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups cake flour
  2. 2 tsp baking powder
  3. ¼ tsp fine salt
  4. ½ cup oil
  5. ¼ cup water
  6. 1 tsp vanilla extract
  7. Juice of ½ lemon
  8. Zest from 1 lemon
  9. 6 room temperature eggs, separated
  10. 1½ cup sugar
  11. ½ tsp cream of tartar
  12. one can of vanilla frosting
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the cake flour, baking powder and salt.
  2. In two additional bowls, separate the eggs with the yolks in one and the whites in the other.
  3. Whisk together the yolks along with 1 cup of sugar. Add in the oil, water, vanilla, lemon juice and lemon zest. Set aside.
  4. In your third bowl, whisk the egg whites until frothy. Add in the cream of tartar. Slowly add in the 1/2 cup of sugar, a small amount at a time while continually whisking. Continue to whisk eggs until they reach stiff peaks.
  5. Slowly mix the egg yolk mixture into the flour bowl. Mix just enough to combine ingredients so that batter is not overworked. Fold in the egg whites until the batter is uniform.
  6. Pour batter equally into two 8" cake tins. Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes.
  7. Allow to cool, then add vanilla frosting.
Adapted from The Squishy Monster
Eurolinguiste http://eurolinguiste.com/
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I'm a language lover, traveler and musician sharing my adventures and language learning tips over at Eurolinguiste. Join me on Facebook for daily language learning and travel tips!