Christmas for Asians is a time to gather with family and friends. The celebration was carried out in various ways. The Western version of Christmas celebrations has been widely adopted in Asian countries, such as Santa Claus which is a major factor in celebrations.
This holiday is largely a secular celebration, as only a small proportion of the Asian population is Christian. Here are some traditions of Christmas celebrations in various countries in Asia, as quoted from the Nextshark page:
Asian countries with a large Christian population such as the Philippines have started preparing for Christmas several months earlier. If you’re there, Christmas music has been around since early October. September 1 is when the countdown to Christmas begins. This tradition is a mixture of native Filipino and western traditions. In the western tradition, there is Santa Claus, trees, cards and Christmas carols. One of the most famous Christmas decorations in the Philippines is the ‘parol’, which is a bamboo slab or frame attached to a star lantern as a representation of the star guiding the Wise Men. Most of the people stay up all night from Christmas Eve to Christmas Day. Then they attended the ‘Simbang Gabi’ or Christmas Eve gathering, then continued with an evening party called Noche Buena.
Christmas is a national holiday in India due to British influence and the students’ midterm holiday. People will plant trees to celebrate ‘Badaa Din’ or Hari Raya, another name for Christmas in North India. India’s smallest country, Goa, holds a major celebration every December, although only 2 percent of the population profess to be Christian. Mango or banana trees will be decorated, Christians will attend midnight mass and western-style dishes will be consumed on Christmas Eve. Popular foods that are served a lot are roasted chicken or turkey. Desserts in Goa consumed at this celebration include neureos, small fried pastries with fruit and coconut, and dodol, a toffee-like dish filled with coconut and cashews. Christmas stars adorn the roofs of many houses in other parts of India, including Kerala. Father Christmas delivers gifts to children from horse carriages.
Christmas is one of the four biggest celebrations in Vietnam, the other three being the birth of the Buddha, New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival. Young people will usually flock to Nguyen Hue street in Chi Minh City Hotel to see the light show on Christmas Eve. In Hanoi, people will gather around the Cathedral Church of Sts. Joseph to do the same. The majority of Vietnamese people are Christian because they were under French colonization. They will attend midnight mass at local churches. Lots of people will sprinkle confetti, take pictures and admire the iced Antarctic Christmas lights decorations in major hotels and shopping malls.
Christianity did not spread throughout Japan, so Christmas was celebrated more in a commercial way. Japanese people will eat a Christmas cake in the form of a sponge cake topped with whipped cream and fruit. Instead of Santa Claus, there is the character Hoteiosho, a grandfather who carries a big bag and eyes on the back of his head, so children have to be nice when there is a figure. Gifts exchange is usually done by couples on Christmas Eve, which is more celebrated than Christmas. Christmas Eve is considered more like a romantic day, parallel to Valentine’s Day. The most popular food eaten these days is fried chicken, fast food restaurants like KFC will take orders early. Christmas-themed parties also refer to the big Shogatsu New Year celebrations.
Christmas Day is celebrated as a national holiday, because Christianity is the majority religion in this Ginseng Country. Money is given as gifts, greeting cards are distributed to everyone, and the bridge over the Han River in Seoul is decorated with colorful decorations. The capital of South Korea is also enlivened by a light show in addition to the lights on the downtown bridge. Santa Haraboji or Grandpa Santa is the Korean version of Santa Claus and often wears blue clothes. Christmas cake is a popular treat there, which is a sponge cake covered in cream purchased from a local bakery or Baskin Robbins.
Christmas in China is celebrated privately by family and friends. Young couples often celebrate by exchanging gifts. A tradition that is becoming popular is to give apples on Christmas Eve. Apple in Mandarin is hip, which sounds similar to the word peace, where the Chinese translation is similar to Christmas Eve, Ping’an Ye, meaning a peaceful or quiet night.