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Festive traditions around the world


If you’re lucky enough to be teaching abroad in your TEFL UK assignment for the Christmas season then we bet you can’t wait to experience a whole new way of doing Christmas. The festive season is also a great time to mix up your lesson plans, introduce more arts and crafts, teach the children about Christmas in your home country whilst learning about their own traditions too! 

So what can you expect during December? 

Hong Kong


You can expect a rather traditional atmosphere, there are Christmas lights, festive songs and even turkey on the menu. The only difference is, there’s no snow! While you’re here though, a visit to the famous Winterfest is a must - a festival running throughout December, culminating in a huge lights and fireworks display on New Year’s Eve. Think grottos, Chrtistmas trees and choirs and you’re on the right track. In fact, Hong Kong will certainly rid of you any homesickness over December.


Christmas in Japan isn’t a national holiday but no fear because you’re still in for an awesome time. They have the usual trees and lights etc, but they have a few quirky traditions of their own. Christmas cake is a rather delicious strawberry shortcake sponge - we can confirm it’s amazing! Ok, so this is the bit we love… it's a tradition to eat KFC (yep, that’s Kentucky Fried Chicken to me and you) for Christmas dinner in Japan. Just a heads up, it’s not actually common to exchange gifts at Christmas in the country but instead you can expect gifts at other times including New Year or during ‘oseibo’ in December when co-workers typically exchange presents.


Once again, China embraces the festive season with lights, trees and songs but it also isn’t celebrated as a public holiday (in fact in some rural areas it isn’t celebrated at all). Christmas is seen as a time to party in China, be that in a local karaoke bar, a gathering of friends in a restaurant or inviting your loved ones round for a house party. There’s very little religious element to the celebrations (only 1% of the Chinese population is Christian), but there’ll be plenty of party invites coming your way.


Known as ‘Feliz Navidad’, Spain isn’t as commercial about Christmas as the UK and US. There are decorations and Christmas supplies in the shops but these generally don’t appear until the end of November and Christmas trees in homes don’t tend to be put up until the second half of the month - just in time for the big day. Christmas Eve is the time for a big family gathering, there’s food galore so a great time to try something new such as traditional Christmas sweets called turrón which is a nougat made of toasted sweet almonds, or Polvorones which is made from almonds, flour and sugar. Presents aren’t really shared on Dec 25th and are gifted on Jan 6th instead. 


South Koreans celebrate Christmas in a similar way to the USA and UK but with a greater emphasis on the religious aspect than the commercial side. Gifts are exchanged usually on Christmas Eve and Korean children look forward to a visit from ‘Grandpa Santa’, also known as ‘Santa Harabujee’ - he wears a red or blue Santa suit and hands out presents and chocolates. You can see him in the bigger department stores during your stay!  

Wherever you’re teaching during December, we hope you have a magical experience. Any questions or advice needed, give us a call.