Spending Christmas in South Korea I have realized the commercial side of this holiday even more than if I was in Italy or the UK. Since November, shops started playing Christmas music and decorating the shop windows; walking in commercial areas like Myeong-Dong where the shopping craze at other times of the year is already hectic was like walking in a maze of excited people. Aside from the atmosphere in the city (topped by the presence of a consistent amount of snow) however, Christmas did not feel so much like Christmas to me.
Coming from a big family where everyone is really close and reunites during the Christmas holiday in my hometown to celebrate all together, something was missing for me here. This is not to say that I did not have a pleasant Christmas with my friends, but it was really different from what I am used to. Aside from spending time with my relatives, Christmas at home centers around food. Well, in 2017 preparing a Christmas dinner was a struggle. Not only because here in South Korea finding all the ingredients you can normally find in Western countries is not as easy, or for the absence of ovens (Korean cuisine does not use ovens), but for the condition of our residency at the time.
After living in a dormitory for the first semester, some of my friends and I decided to move into a house. Unfortunately, around two weeks before moving, the pipes in the house froze and made the ceiling collapse. So we spent Christmas in a temporary house that was provided for us by our landlady, it was a nice house, the only problem was that it had one stove and a tiny fridge. So on Christmas Eve we started cooking at 1pm to manage to cook everything we wanted for dinner, but then struggled to store everything in the fridge. We had to place the dessert close to the open window (and freeze because the temperature was below zero) and to warm everything up as we were eating.
The result was not as bad as you could imagine from what I have described but it did not deserve the title of Christmas dinner. Nevertheless, it was a fun night, we spent it eating, drinking and playing games and after midnight we exchanged presents. It was a really different Christmas but not in the least an unpleasant one.