A Very Asian Christmas

Image Credit: 246-You, via Flickr

Image Credit: 246-You, via Flickr

Merry Weekend-before-Christmas!


As you go about your shopping, wrapping and eating, do you ever think about how Asian culture influences how you celebrate this holiday? Here are some links you might enjoy:


“I Don’t Know How to Do Christmas” In my latest piece at Mom.me, I reminisce about Christmas Past — not the kind with figgy pudding and English carolers, but Asian immigrant style! How I tried to make up for my lack of yuletide tradition with a little help from Martha and Pottery Barn, and eventually found a mish-mash of rhythms that feels right for our multicultural family.


Apparently, Maria at Bicultural Mama had some similar Christmas experiences, as she writes about “Bicultural Christmases in a Commercialized Society”. Socks and underwear for everyone!


Over at Nikkei View, Gil Asakawa asks “Why are there no Asian Santa Clauses?”¬†Apparently, even in Japan (near U.S. military bases, at least) the Santas are white. But at least they get to eat buckets of KFC for Christmas dinner. Take that, roast beast! (note to self: file this under Traditions)


How do you blend traditions in your family? Wishing you a very Asian Christmas!






  1. says

    What a great collection of articles! And I love your tale about creating your own family traditions, and how our own partners and kids often foil our plans…but it all works out in the end ;)

  2. says

    Great article you wrote on mom.me. I didn’t register to leave a comment. I love that you tried different things throughout the year and have some of your own traditions now. We didn’t do all out Christmas growing up, and we’re still pretty low key now. Tree, stockings, a few decorations here and there, but we keep it simple. Easy to clean up afterwards too ;). We just love getting together with family and seeing everyone enjoy their gifts. Oh and the food of course. We do hot pot with my mom and usually Western food with my hub’s side of the family, even though he’s Chinese too.

  3. says

    I never worried as a kid if our Christmas’ were genuinely European like or not when I grew up in Ontario. I just loved the magic of Christmas tree lights on our silver (yes) tinsel fake Christmas tree that we had for 15 yrs. before switching to a fake green tree (thank goodness) in the evening, voluntarily playing Christmas carol records and singing them. Waiting in anticipation of the few presents under the tree. (We were poor).

    Christmas always meant a box of chocolates or store bought cookies. We occasionally received homemade cookies from neighbours or friends since my mother didn’t how to bake cookies/pies/cakes until we were teens and we took over the baking.

    Parents were/aren’t religious but as children, we understood the spirit of Christmas and it was real because we were poor.

    As the years rolled by, Christmas became a wonderful time for family to gather at my parents’ place when we left home, had families, etc. Food rarely included turkey but whatever Mother felt like preparing and whatever we bought as side dishes. A jumble of primarily Chinese homecooked, Peking duck, etc.

    When I met my partner 2 decades ago, who was born in Germany and immigrated in Canada as a little boy after WW II, I was exposed in my early 30’s onward, to more traditional, German Christmas traditions. HIs mother consicously loved and celebrated Christmas as THE festival of celebration for her family: live evergreen boughs decordated the house and with its piney smell, 5-6 different types of German baked cookies 1 month in advance so that the flavours would age and deepen in flavour, at least 1 homemade 5-6 layered cake torte (hazelnut crumb with a frosting, buttercream filling etc.), a chocolate advent calendar, etc. This my partner’s boyhood and teenagehood Christmas: true fantasy and for real spirit since his mother was Catholic also.

    When we vacationed in southern Germany 2 years ago in the area where his family is from, I was pleasantly surprised to visit some museums featured medieval and renaissance German religious art (most high art of that period was religious) and discovered that the year round colours of Biblical characters and events were in the ….colours of green, green and rich terra cotta brown.

    So I believe the Christmas colours of green and red are religious in origins.

    You’ll see the fabulous art in later in this slideshow in my blog post:

    For Christmas our meals have tended to be predominantly non-Asian…which for me is a pleasant change because I naturally cook more Asian rest of the year. It’s just easier for me..since I don’t have to consult a cookbook most of the time. :)

  4. says

    Thanks for sharing your experiences, Jean! So insightful to see what a gamut of cultures you’ve experienced. Loved your photoessay of Christmas in Germany, too. I keep having trouble leaving comments on WordPress.com blogs — so sorry I couldn’t leave you a proper message there!

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