Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Beyond Christmas

I wasn't expecting much of a celebration of Christmas before I came to Korea because I didn't really associate it in my mind as a Christian country, although in reality a significant percentage of the population identify themselves with it. But if nothing else, I should have realised that - like Japan - Christmas is a commercial opportunity even without its religious overtones. It's just not quite the Christmas you'd expect.

A Christmas show was on TV yesterday, but alongside the dancing Santa was someone dancing in a costume that appeared to resemble something a dog might leave behind it, and even more inexplicably, another person in a dancing skeleton costume. 'Merry Christmas' the presenters cried. I've also seen some rather odd santas - including the one above carrying a saxophone for no apparent reason.

Beyond the slightly odd Korean take on Chirstmas, the weather here isn't co-operating with the festive season. Being from the north of England I expect a decent amount of snowfall during winter, though in truth global warming has steadily reduced this during my lifetime. But in Busan, it hardly ever snows, robbing the scenery of any potential Christmas decoration. In fact, before coming here I was told to expect minimum temperatures of around three degrees Celsius but it's actually dipped below zero many times in the last three weeks. The TV blames El Niño. Annoyingly, it has snowed rather a lot in the rest of the country, and even to the south in the area near Namhae, but it's just cold here. So, all of the irritations of winter, none of the visual pleasures, and no pretty pictures of the local mountains covered in snow.

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