Christmas can be tough to take in Korea. Say what you will about the secularization and commercialization of the holiday back home, wherever that is, in Korea it's divorced from any context and meaning and is celebrated as simply another romantic holiday. That Korea has adopted and created so many couples' holidays---Valentine's Day, White Day, Pepero Day, the 14th days---owes I think to how stressful and depressing the traditional holidays can be, what with the preparation, the bad traffic jams, the in-laws, and the graves. It's a time for bad interpretations of Christmas music (why why why?)
and wearing outrageous hats, and several chains offer them each year. Last year the most gay-ass one was Baskin Robbins' snowman hat:
As the accompanying commercial says, there's an icecream cake so now it's really Christmas!
Yeah, whatever. Paris Baguette rolled out a Smurf hat:
Extra! Korea previewed the 2009 offerings from Paris Baguette and Baskin Robbins. Here's Kim Tae-hee and Girls' Generation modeling a badger hat, or something:
Baskin Robbins hits you with a penguin hat:
Dunkin Donuts came strong with this bear-ear hat:
Tous Les Jours doesn't understand Christmas:
And Crown Bakery used the most irritating pop group in Korea, Kara, to advertise its Christmas gear:
Of course the other "tradition" of Christmas here is the Christmas cake. You have to reserve them in advance, so if you are interested in buying one you probably already did. I didn't, but if I were going to I'd go for one with an interesting shape. Here are a few from Paris Baguette:
Baskin Robbins has ice cream cakes, including:
Dunkin Donuts has a couple but I'm not sure how to get to the pictures. Tous Les Jours has them as well, though you can't see them close-up; here's one page:
Crown Bakery has a wide selection, ranging from 17,000 won to 35,000 won. Here are a few of the most interesting-looking:
And Krispy Kreme has seasonal donuts for Christmas, just as they did for Halloween:
And just so I don't leave you thinking---and thinking that I think---that all Christmas music coming out of Korea is absolute shit---empty, meaningless shit---here's something from the Festival Handbell Ensemble (페스티벌핸드벨앙상블):
And here's something from back home: a couple choral arrangements of two of my favorite Christmas songs.
They do Christmas right:
Here's Roboseyo talking more about Christmas music, about five people who should make holiday albums and three who definitely shouldn't. He forgot to include the Koreans in my first three clips.