Christmas Traditions Asia
The Christmas traditions of Asia are a collection of religious
practices by different religions occurring during the holiday
period. Only a small fragment of the population of most countries
in Asia are Christians, and their Xmas celebrations only take
the form of church services and are sometimes overrun by secular
New Year celebrations. It is only in schools run by Christian
missionaries, except in Christian Asian countries, that children
and their parents actively participate in Xmas celebrations.
Because Western secular Holiday celebrations come from a cold
place, the Asians have difficulties adopting these practices
in tropical climate.
In India, Christmas is a state holiday due to British influences
and because of mid-academic year vacations. The active Western
media is slowly introducing secular Christmas celebrations
with commercial activities. South Korea has a public set of
the Christmas traditions of Asia because it is recognized
as a public holiday. Thus, some non-Christian Koreans sometimes
engage in gift-giving, Christmas cards and trees because children
enjoy Santa Haraboji or Grandfather Santa, their version of
Santa Claus. The Christians carol after Xmas Eve services
among their church members. The commercial influence is strong
in Japan and the Japanese enjoy the secular celebrations of
Christmas, second only to New Year’s Day which is a
sacred holiday. Xmas is more of a time for lovers who exchange
gifts and go on special dates. There are, however, sincere
Christians who celebrate Christmas from the religious viewpoint.
In Muslim countries, no Christmas traditions of Asia are
celebrated except in some countries who allow Christians to
celebrate and even recognize Xmas as a public holiday, such
as in Jordan. In Malaysia, although Christmas is a public
holiday, there is an unofficial ban on Christian religious
motif, so the celebration is purely secular.
In China and Taiwan, meanwhile, Christmas is a private celebration. But in Hong Kong and Macao, December 25 is a public holiday by western influence expanded lately by commercial inroads into the culture. December 25 is an official holiday as the Constitution Day.
The Philippines, however, celebrate the longest Christmas
traditions of Asia due to its Spanish influence. The advent
of Christmas in this country is ushered by dawn masses.
The Christmas feast is celebrated after the midnight mass
on Xmas eve. Other winter holidays are also followed like
Innocent’s day and Epiphany.