Do you know what Asian people do at Christmas? We might not have turkey, candles lit, and eggnog like in most Western countries, but we do appreciate and celebrate Christmas in compassion with others. Let’s have a quick tour across Asia to see how people here celebrate Christmas.
Our first stop is Thailand. Christmas is not widely celebrated in Thailand, and the 25th December is just a normal working day. While the religious meaning of Christmas might not be well-known to most Thai people, they celebrate this time of the year for a different reason as it's the month of the king’s birthday. In some other places, elephants are dressed up in Santa Claus costumes and perform at local schools, distribute presents with their trunks. In Bangkok, colorful Christmas decorations can be seen all over the places, especially at Bangkok Central World.
Lights decorate the Christmas Tree at Central World Department store for Christmas day and Happy New Year in Bangkok
Vietnamese people, especially the youth, celebrate Christmas Eve with excitement. In Ho Chi Minh City, the city center is quite crowded on Christmas Eve as people flock at the Nguyen Hue avenue to enjoy the light shows, take pictures and enjoy the Christmas spirit with friends. The same vibes can be seen in Hanoi, all corners of the Old Quarter are decorated and people gather at the St Joseph Cathedral.
A significant part of Vietnam is Christian as the country was once under French influence. They will attend the Midnight Mass at local churches and organize performance for even non-Christian to enjoy the carols.
Notre Dame Cathedral - Ho Chi Minh City in Christmas
Christmas is a big celebration in Singapore, not only for many Christians but also for young locals. Streets and shops are decorated with fake snow, Christmas presents, Christmas trees, and men in red Santa suits. The shops on Orchard Road transform every Christmas into a wonderland of magic where every kind of gift can be found and great photos are easy to take. Restaurants across the island give a festive twist with special menus to impress their customers. Partiers can take part in a countdown party at Marina Bay with live music performance and the best fireworks show in Asia or dance the night away with thousands of revelers at the Siloso beach before great the new year with a bang.
Christmas Wonderland in Garden By The Bay Singapore
4. Hong Kong
Hong Kong is an ideal destination to spend your Christmas if you're in Asia during this time. Christmas is a public holiday in Hong Kong and also coincides with Ta Chiu - the Taoist festival of renewal and peace. Can you see the similarity? During Ta Chiu, Hong Kong people pray and exhort all the spirits and deities of the year to let their collective power renews their lives. Christmas trees are a must-have decoration to all the public buildings and major malls. To create the joyful atmosphere, most of the buildings that face the Victoria Harbor are covered in the Christmas lights. The reflection on the water is absolutely marvelous. If you want to feel even more like home, don't miss out on the shopping part. It's not an overstatement when we all call Hongkong a shopping paradise.
Firework to celebrate Christmas and New Year Festival in Hong Kong
Japanese has its own kind of Christmas. Influenced by Americans, the Japanese celebrate Christmas and New Year Eve instead of Lunar New Year like many other Asian neighbor countries do. However, as Christianity is not widespread, Christmas in commercial form is more popular. People eat what they call "Christmas cake", a sponge cake with whipped cream and some fruit as toppings. The Japanese don’t have Santa Claus, instead, they have "Hoteiosho". He is described as an old man carrying a big sack and has eyes in the back of his head. That is why children have to behave when Hoteiosho is around. Meanwhile, Japanese couples also think that being together on Christmas is especially meaningful. Christmas presents are usually exchanged between lovers or close friends. December is also known as the time for “oseibo” - a tradition in which gifts are exchanged between companies. Nagano, the best base for skiing and other winter sports.
Beautiful golden illumination Christmas light in Tokyo, Japan. Light reflects on the Nakameguro canal
Back in Southeast Asia, Myanmar celebrates Christmas for the whole of December beginning from the 1st day of the month. The occasion is gradually more popular as ‘Sweet December’ by both the youth and elders. Though Myanmar is primarily a Buddhist country, Christians and Christmas were brought here by the British. Therefore, non-Christians here also look forward to the celebrations regardless of religion or race. Interestingly, the church in Myanmar is decorated with golden yellow instead of the usual red, green, and white colors.
Christmas in Myanmar
Each country has its own way of celebrating Christmas but to all of them, Christmas is the occasion for friends and family to get together and enjoy the cheerful atmosphere. Come to Asia this season to experience the holiday like an Asian.