Christmas is just a western thing isn’t it? Well, not entirely. If you find yourself not wanting to succumb to hosting a dinner for 500, and wanting to escape any family arguments that may just escalate over who has control over the TV remote, you could always fly over to Asia for a different kind of Christmas. Right?!
Asia currently has the highest proportion of Buddhists, however, there are still millions of Christians home to Asia, as well as the East being more and more open to adopting western practices and celebrations. Whether it’s just for commercial capital or a serious sequence of morning mass, we’ve looked into how Christmas is celebrated across Asia:
Although not inherited as a religious or public holiday, in bustling, modern cities like Tokyo, you’ll see wintery window displays in shopping malls and glistening Christmas trees lining the ever so tidy streets. The Japanese view Christmas as a time to share happiness and particularly love. Amongst the younger generation, it has evolved into a romantic time of year whereby couples will exchange gifts and spend the evening gazing into each other’s eyes over a candle lit meal – a bit like western Valentine’s Day.
虽然没有继承作为一个宗教或公共假期，在东京这样繁华的现代化城市，你会看到商场里的橱窗里闪烁着圣诞树，街道上如此的整洁。日本人认为圣诞节是分享快乐，特别是分享爱的时刻。在年轻人中，圣诞节已经发展成为一年一次的浪漫时光，夫妻之间会互相赠送礼物，并在烛光晚餐上眺望对方的眼睛 – 有点像西方情人节。
However, this meal doesn’t have to be spent in the fanciest of restaurants. KFC will suffice. Since KFC’s marketing campaign in 1974, it’s now tradition in Japan to eat fried chicken during the holiday, making it the busiest time for fried chicken chains; but not to worry, you can even place your order in advance. This is all finished off with a large slice of Christmas cake – but not like how we know it. Japanese Christmas cake is THE cake emoji on iOS – a light sponge cake with layers of snowy-white, whipped cream topped with strawberries, which patriotically represents the colours of the Japanese flag.
不过，这顿饭不一定要昂贵的餐厅里。肯德基就足够了。从1974年肯德基的营销活动开始，在日本吃炸鸡是现在假期中的传统项目，这是炸鸡连锁店最繁忙的时间。但不用担心，你甚至可以提前下订单。由一大块圣诞蛋糕来收尾 – 但不像我们知道的。日本圣诞蛋糕是iOS平台上的蛋糕表情符号 – 一层淡淡的海绵蛋糕，上面铺着草莓还有白雪皑皑的奶油，是爱国者代表日本国旗的颜色。
Yet this time of year isn’t predominantly to celebrate Jesus’s birthday, but to celebrate their Emperor’s Birthday, which falls on December 23rd. It’s on this date that you’ll feel the true coming together of Japan with a public ceremony outside the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, including lots of flag waiving and cheering.
It’ll be like a home from home if you fly out to the Philippines, as surprisingly, 90% of Filipinos are Christian. Inherited after missionaries from Spain and Portugal who travelled there in the 1500s, the Filipino’s go big with Christmas. Carols can be played in shops as early as September, and streets will be filled with star-shaped, paper lanterns lit on top of bamboo poles to symbolise goodwill and hope, resembling the Star of Bethlehem.
The official celebrations don’t commence until the 16th December, when communities across the country head to the first of nine early morning masses, the last being on Christmas Day. However, Christmas doesn’t see the end here. On the first Sunday of January, the ‘Feast of Three Kings’ is celebrated – a time to remember the three kings in Bethlehem with parades down the streets of Manila.
直到十二月十六日，官方庆典才开始，全国各地的社区前往九个运动队伍的第一个，最后一个是圣诞节。不过，圣诞节在这里并没有看到结局。在1月的第一个星期天，大家会庆祝“三国宴” – 这是一个纪念伯利恒三位国王，在马尼拉街头游行的时刻。
In true Chinese fashion, Christmas is mimicked in some well-developed cities such as Shanghai, where you’ll find extravagant, oversized displays in their even more extravagant, westernised malls. The Chinese can be very meaningful and thoughtful towards names, colours, particular traditions and of course, gifts, and nothing means Merry Christmas more than being a part of a cellophane-wrapped apple exchange on Christmas Eve. Translated from the Christmas carol, Silent Night, Ping’anye (平安夜) in Mandarin means peaceful, quiet evening, which they believe sounds uncannily familiar to the word for apple in Mandarin, pingguo (苹果), making it ping’anguo (平安果), the fruit of peace. And there we have it.
After some significant influence from the French, the people of Ho Chi Minh City in particular get too excited for Christmas and carry out the festivities a day early, on Christmas Eve. Herds of people will flock to the centre of the city to enjoy light shows, throw confetti and take many photos against the Christmas decorations. It’s an excuse for one big party. Typically French, the chocolate cake shaped like a log – Bruche de Noel – is also given as a gift to family and friends.
在受法国的一些重大影响之后，尤其是胡志明市的人们对于过圣诞节非常的兴奋。他们在圣诞节前一天开始庆祝活动。人群将涌向市中心，观赏灯光秀，扔纸屑，并拍很多圣诞节装饰品的照片。这是一个大派对的借口。典型的法国巧克力蛋糕形状像一个原木 – 布鲁诺德诺尔 – 也作为礼物送给家人和朋友。
For the most colourful of Christmases, head to the City of Mumbai, Goa or to the South West where in total, 28 million Christians are homed, including some who even fast from 1st-24th December until midnight mass. Churches are decorated wall to wall with poinsettia flowers, and traditional Christmas trees are swapped for banana and mango trees – even the leaves are used to decorate homes.
To show to their neighbours that Jesus is the light of the world, Christians will burn small, oil lamps on the tops of flat roofs creating a warm glow across cities. Christmas is also a sweet time of year for India, just like the West, with nuereos – small pastries filled with dry fruit and coconut, and dodol – toffee with cashew and coconut, which are usually homemade and given as gifts. You’ll also catch sight of giant, paper lanterns in the shape of stars in a magnitude of different colours, as well as nativity scenes recreated with clay figurines.
为了向邻居展示耶稣是世界之光，基督徒们将在平顶屋的屋顶上燃烧小型油灯，在城市之间营造温暖的光芒。对印度来说，圣诞节也是一年中最美好的时光，就像西方一样，有nuereos – 装满干果和椰子的小糕点，还有腰果和椰子的dodol – 太妃糖，通常都是自制的礼物。您还可以看到巨型的，形状各异的星星灯笼，以及用泥人重制的圣诞场景。
South Korea 韩国
If you’re stuck working abroad over the Christmas holiday, lets hope you’re headed to South Korea as it’s one of few Asian countries who celebrate Christmas as an official public holiday. Correspondingly, this will also mean a work Christmas ‘do’ is on the cards in some way or another, whether that be a good or bad thing, we’ll leave that up to you. Unfortunately it’s back to work and back to school on Boxing Day, but be sure to take a detour on your commute home to the Han River bridges in Seoul to see a scene taken out of a Christmas fairy tale book.
如果你在圣诞期间呆在国外工作，希望你前往韩国，因为这是少数几个将圣诞节作为正式公共假期的亚洲国家之一。 相应地，这也意味着圣诞节工作的现象是存在的，无论这是一件好事还是坏事，我们都会把它留给你们。 不幸的是，大家都要在节礼日（圣诞节的最后一天）回来上班和学习，但是一定要绕着汉城的汉江桥回家，看看圣诞节童话故事里的情景。
Merry Christmas to Asia and the rest of the world!
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