The Christmas magic is different in some Asian countries where is sunny, hot and instead of gathering by the fireplace people are gatherings by the poolside. This holiday season I had the chance to travel in Asia and I get enchanted from all of the festive decoration and preparation. It will be not a surprise that Christmas for Asians is all about spending time with family and friends.

A lot of them are not Christians, but they embarrassing the symbols of the holiday and make it as magical it can be. They just want to be compassionate to the rest of the world and join the big worldwide celebration. For some Asian the celebrating is not so much about religion it’s just an amazing opportunity to honour the main symbols – friends, family, togetherness and enjoy the fairytale decorations. 

The westernised version of Christmas has been copied by many countries in Asia, with Santa Claus being a big factor during the celebrations. Let me take you on a fairytale journey in some of the main Asian cultural and commercial centres and feel the magic of the holiday.

Christmas on the beach in the Philippines

For the Philippines, the Christmas countdown starts from September 1st. There is a large Christian population in the country. You can hear famous songs such as ‘Santa is Coming to Town’ as early as October. The customs are a mix of western and native Filipino traditions. On the western side, there is Santa Claus, Christmas trees, cards and carols.

One of the most popular decorations in the Philippines is the parol, a bamboo pole or frame with a lighted star lantern on it to represent the star that guided the Wise Men. Most people stay up all night on Christmas Eve into Christmas Day, with Christians attending “Simbang Gabi” or Christmas Eve mass followed by a midnight feast called Noche Buena. The Christmas season for the Philippines is all about parties, shopping and plenty of twinkling lights.

The Chinese interpretation of Christmas in Hong Kong

Although not a public holiday in China, Christmas is starting to take off in the large, more international-influenced cities, such as Hong Kong and Shanghai. The holiday is usually another workday, with celebrations held as a private affair between families and friends. But Influence by a large number of ex-pats and tourist Chinese people embracing the traditions of Christmas and I saw a lot of festive decoration, twinkling lights and in some commercial centres even a Santa Claus village. Especially in Hong Kong, this is because of their European roots.

A tradition that is becoming popular is the giving of apples on Christmas Eve. The word for apple in Mandarin, píngguǒ, sounds like the word for peace, which is similar to the translation of Christmas Eve, Ping’an Ye, meaning peaceful or quiet evening.

Lights and outstanding decorations in Singapore

Despite or maybe because of the not so Christmassy weather, Singapore really outdoes itself for this holiday. In Singapore is a big celebration that gives locals another excuse to do what they love most – Eat and shop. At its heart, the holiday is still a special day for Christians in the country. For some, it’s a religious celebration like any other, and regardless of their religious beliefs, everyone gets to take part in the fun of frolicking in fake snow, men in Santa suits and of course, Christmas presents! In some central place, I found even Christmas markets that can be a competition to the most famous Europeans markets.

My opinion is that Christmas is not so much about religion is more about a special time at the end of the year to slow down the daily routine and to be festive, grateful and to spread the love around you. To appreciate your friends, your family and give extra love and care to them. Merry Christmas to all of you and stay tuned for my new adventures around the world next year!

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