Christmas Dinner in Korea

When we first came to Korea, we tried really hard to hold all the American Christmas traditions. However, we had to forego the turkey because turkeys are just no where in Korea. I have never seen one for sale. People say they are here, but they are very expensive.  I have seen turkeys that someone bought at the American military base, and that is it.  We initially substituted a chicken for a turkey on Christmas. We didn’t bother with cranberries, and we had to cook the pumpkin before we could ever make a pie.  Things evolved for us.

It was hard to prepare everything for Christmas because often I had to work right up until Christmas and only got Christmas day or Christmas Eve and Christmas day off.  We opted out to make cookies and pies, and go out for Christmas dinner. We thought initially we would go to the steak house, but it didn’t work. One year, we went to one steak house and had to wait 2 hours before we were seated, and never normally have to wait that much at a steak house here.  The next year, we tried going to a different steak house, and we ended up waiting a good long time again before they let us in.  We just decided that going out for steak wasn’t going to work.

The Italian restaurant is never this crowded, but it was today. Many Koreans ate Christmas dinner at the Italian restaurant.

When my daughter got married, we decided to try making a Christmas dinner at home again on Christmas day.  We did it just the same with chicken instead of turkey.  This year, her husband has had to work both Christmas Eve and Christmas day, so she said since it was just going to be her and I for Christmas dinner, she didn’t think we should cook.  I told her we should at least go out to eat, and we decided to try an Italian restaurant instead of a steak restaurant since we thought all the Koreans were eating steak on Christmas.  There was a big long line outside the Italian restaurant of people waiting to get in, and the restaurant was crowded, so we decided not to go there. We ended up at the food court over at E-Mart. It was crowded, but at least we didn’t have to wait 2 hours before we could eat.

That is the spot I found us at the end of the table. We had to share a table with another family because there were so many people in the food court.


I took a video of kind of a survey of the food court from my chair to show you how many people were packed in having Christmas dinner.


We had to sit at a table with another family just to have a seat.  We decided to eat Burger King food.  I usually just have a sandwich and forego the fries because I don’t want to get big and fat, but because it is Christmas, I ordered the fries too.  My daughter got what is called “a big box.”  It had a chicken sandwich, fried cheese balls, french fries, chicken nuggets, and a coke. She had the same idea: It is Christmas, so she is allowed to indulge.  However, I had trouble finishing my fries because I don’t usually eat that much, and she had trouble finishing hers too.  She didn’t finish her fries and brought the cheese balls home for later.

E Mart was crowded too.

I took a video of the loud mouthed woman trying to sell kimchee thinking you might find it interesting.  Whenever you walk around in a store in Korea, there will be loud mouthed people like this yelling above the crowd trying to get people to buy whatever they have.  She is quiet compared to some of them.

After we ate, we decided that since we were at E-Mart anyway, we should pick some things up so we would have to do it later.  The store was packed too!  It seems that no one stays home on Christmas in Korea.  In America, we all stay at home on Christmas.  It is a family time, but here is Korea, they take it as “Oh, I have a day off!  Let’s see how much running around I can get done!”

Our Christmas deserts on the desk/ Our apartment is too small for a kitchen table. You can see things stacked up next to the desk because there is just no where to put them. We have no space at all.

On the way home, we sang along with our Christmas CD.  Once we got home, we decided to relax, and then eat some Christmas deserts.  Even though we didn’t make a Christmas dinner, we did make Christmas deserts:  oatmeal cookies, pumpkin cookies, sugar cookies, apple pie, and pumpkin pie, and we may be the only people in the country who have those things because Korean women don’t bake.  Christmas in Korea is just not the same as an American Christmas.

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