The European Christmas Market
When December rolled around, I immediately began researching Christmas festivities in the area. Fortunately, I found a whole list of them online. Luke and I decided to check out the “European Traditional Christmas Festival” in the Seongbuk area near Seongbukcheon Fountain Square.
As we stepped out of our apartment to walk to the bus, we immediately reconsidered just staying home. It was a whopping 12° F as the high for the day! TWELVE DEGREES! But our crazy asses went anyway. When we got there, we briskly walked to the festival in order to find something warm. With the GPS in action and the weather biting at my fingers, my three year old phone lasted all of eight and a half minutes before dying but fortunately, we made it to the festival.
There were probably 30 booths, all representing a different European country that was selling some variation of beer, mulled wine, sausages, cookies, or other deliciousness. This seemed like it was maybe one of the more popular festivals to attend, and there were tons of people in attendance. However, the number of people was a bit much for the amount of space they had. It was so packed; lines were long and people were brushing past shoulders because there was no room to walk. There were also a number of heaters and standing tables within the space. Luke and I grabbed some mulled wine, and sausages and found an open table to stand at. Despite all of the craziness and cold weather though, it really was a nice Christmas Festival. It reminded me (a bit) of our time last year in Paris right before Christmas. Ohhh the magic. ✨
Christmas Light Festivals
After we froze our butts off, we warmed back up in a cafe for a while with yummy hot drinks. Next, we met up with some friends to walk along the Cheonggyecheon Stream in Seoul that was filled with Christmas lights. At the end of the stream, was a concert where a couple people were singing, and about four women were dancing in the back with sparkly crop tops and shorts! How they were surviving in the freezing temperatures, I will never know - but they rocked it.
For a few weeks this December, the Songdo Central Park near our apartment has had a fun and spirited Christmas Lights Festival as well. It was spread around the park as a romantic little walk for people to wander around and enjoy. Christmas isn’t nearly as big as it is in America. It’s also more of a couple’s holiday. There was Christmas music playing throughout and of course tons of photo ops. It’s fun seeing the park change each season as it’s a little different every time we go. Surprisingly, there were still people willingly floating out in the tiny boats on the water!
The weekend before Christmas, we decided to go to an area of Seoul we had only briefly visited once before…Hyehwa. It’s a big Performing Arts area near Dongdaemun and used to be the biggest art and music scene before Hongdae took over. I kind of like that it’s not as crowded as Hongdae and it’s something a little more new to us. We walked around and saw a small street market of jewelry and handmade crafts, a young musician performing while people strolled by, and a huge Christmas tree. Eventually, we needed a small pick me up and some warmth so we ducked into a cafe for coffees and a chocolate muffin. Afterwards, we walked around the Ihwa Mural Village. There are so many murals along the walls of this small residential area, but unfortunately we didn’t make it to each part because of the weather and racing the sun. Spread throughout the village are some really cute cafes, restaurants and small shops!
Christmas Eve rolled around and we actually had to work. To reiterate, Christmas isn’t nearly as big here as it is back home, so we worked our usual 2-9 PM schedule and when we got off, Luke and I had carbonara (nothing that compares to Jeanne’s), and watched “It’s A Wonderful Life”.
Fortunately, Christmas is a public holiday here so we didn’t have to work. So on Christmas morning, we had breakfast casserole and called some family to catch up. Then we opened presents and watched various sitcoms’ Christmas episodes to follow. It was a very relaxed Christmas day in the apartment featuring OJ, Champagne and the very amazing and Korean Tok Soda or 톡소다 which is basically a mimosa in a bottle. We would have loved to spend the holidays with friends and family, but as our last year living abroad, it was a nice and cozy Christmas spent with just each other.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday!
P.S. It snowed!!!