How Asian people celebrate Christmas

20 Dec, 2023 | Featured Stories

From the ultimate guides of each destination, secret beauties, amazing things about food and culture to top suggested resorts and hotels, our travel blog is meant to help you travel Asia with ease and experience the best moments there without any hesitation.

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 our own way. Let’s have a quick tour across Asia to see how people here celebrate Christmas.

1. Thailand

Our first stop is Thailand. Christmas is not widely celebrated in Thailand, and the 25th of 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, instead of reindeers, are ridden by Santa Claus to go distribute presents with their trunks. In Bangkok, colorful Christmas decorations can be seen all over the place, especially at Bangkok Central World.

Lights decorate the Christmas Tree at Central World Department store for Christmas day and Happy New Year in Bangkok

2. Vietnam

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 to 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. Lastly, free live music events are always held in big squares, delivering an indescribably lively atmosphere for all to enjoy.
A significant part of Vietnam is made up of Christians as the country was once under French colonization. They will attend the Midnight Mass at local churches and organize performances for everyone to enjoy the carols.

Notre Dame Cathedral - Ho Chi Minh City in Christmas

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3. Singapore

Christmas is a big celebration in Singapore, not only for the many Christians there 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 add a festive twist with special menus to make customers salivate. Party-goers can take part in a countdown party at Marina Bay with live music performances and the best firework shows in Asia or dance the night away among thousands of revelers at the Siloso Beach before greeting 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. During Ta Chiu, Hong Kong people pray and exhort all the spirits and deities of the year to let their collective power renew their lives. Christmas trees are a must-have decoration to all public buildings and major malls. To create a joyful atmosphere, most of the buildings that face Victoria Harbor are covered in Christmas lights. The reflection on the water is absolutely marvelous. If you want to round it out to perfection, don't miss out on the shopping. It's not an overstatement when we all call Hongkong a shopping paradise; especially so during this time of the year. 

Firework to celebrate Christmas and New Year Festival in Hong Kong

5. Japan

The Japanese have their own kind of Christmas. Like in America, the Japanese celebrate Christmas and New Year Eve instead of the Lunar New Year like many other Asian neighboring countries do. However, as Christianity is not widespread, Christmas in commercial form is more popular in Japan. People eat what they call "Christmas cake", a sponge cake with whipped cream and fruit as toppings. The Japanese don’t have Santa Claus; instead, they have "Hoteiosho". Described as an old man carrying a big sack and has eyes in the back of his head, 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. For tourists that also look for fun physical  activities at this time of the year, Nagano is the best base for skiing and other winter sports.

Beautiful golden illumination Christmas light in Tokyo, Japan

6. Myanmar

In Southeast Asia, Myanmar celebrates Christmas for the whole of December beginning from the 1st day of the month. The occasion is gradually becoming more popular as ‘Sweet December’ by both the youth and elders. Even though Myanmar is primarily a Buddhist country, Christianity and Christmas were brought here by the British and have popularized ever since. Therefore, everyone here look forward to the celebrations regardless of religion.  Interestingly, the churches in Myanmar are decorated with golden yellow instead of the usual red, green, and white colors.

Christmas in Myanmar

Each country in Asia 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 the Asian way.

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