Quantcast
Advertisement

Picture 1516

To an expat like me, Korean Christmas lacks the warmth of family and tradition.  It’s a new holiday, and it’s treated more like Valentine’s Day.  It’s been around for a while, at least since G.I.s gave gifts during the Korean War.  But I’d give a guess that it hit big commercial holiday status around the time that Mariah Carey came out with her Christmas album, considering that’s basically all the Christmas music you’re going to get–on repeat–with some occasional George Michael’s “Last Christmas.”

For a Christmas music connoisseur, Korea is hell.

It makes up for some of it with amazing Christmas light displays that beat out New York City.  The Korean Christmas cake is the other highlight.  In fact, through investigations into what Korean families do on Christmas Day, it’s the only highlight.  Christmas consists of opening a few gifts and eating a Christmas cake.  No feasts.  No carols.  No big family gatherings.  Santa is still an awkward thing, too.  One of my friends was out with his Korean wife this week Santa shopping for their kids.  He went to look for something and found his young daughter holding a present while sitting in the shopping cart.  He looked at his wife.

Advertisement

“Um, isn’t that a Santa gift?”

Advertisement
Aliexpress INT

“Yes.”

“Why is she holding it?”

“What’s the big deal?”

It’s a concept that has to still work out a few bugs.

Since the Christmas cakes are the stars, and Koreans aren’t big home cake bakers, the multitude of chain bakeries, ice cream parlors, doughnut shops and anyone with an ice cream cooler or oven (except, surprisingly, the roti bun places) competes in the Christmas cake business.

Picture 1496

This is the busiest day of the year for the bakeries.  They’re packed.  All day long, each ajosshi you see on the street is carrying a cake box.

Picture 1517

Christmas cakes don’t have any special Christmas flavors.  No cinnamon and spices.  They’re the same old cakes that they sell all year round.  So in order to stand out, bakeries make the cakes as gawdy and over-the-top as possible.  They’re impressive, considering the equivalent supermarket bakeries in America have these to offer.

(Pictures taken by my mom in the U.S.)

Tous les Jours

Let’s start with bakery chain Tous les Jours.

Picture 1489

“Pink houses, baby, for you and me.”

Houses were a major theme this year.  This one looks like it will get some drafts in the winter.

Picture 1518

Cute characters are always a hit.  Check out this… I guess it’s a bear.

Picture 1520

And here’s a nice simple snowman scene.  I’m a fan of these chocolate butter cream cakes.

Picture 1523

Santa’s at Frodo’s house.  I think this is, in fact, the Rankin-Bass Santa.

No, not quite.  I’m more curious as to what the chimney is doing in front of the house.  Oh, those hobbits!

Picture 1438

Here he is again on a strawberry cake.  Either he’s delivering toys in a volcano, or something really nasty happened to the reindeer.  Either way, that teddy bear don’t look to happy.

Picture 1439

“samtsirhC yrreM!!”

Paris Baguette

Picture 1471

Picture 1447

This year, Paris Baguette embraced its faux Gallicness by pronouncing “Joyeux Noël” on its cakes.  I’m guessing from the nose that this is Rudolph.  He’s a bit swollen, I guess, from the mumps.  Don’t squeeze those protrusions from his cheeks.  Should get those looked at.

Picture 1449

I apologize for the shoddy photography, but this intrigued me by its double deckeredness.  I know.  It’s just a small cake on top of a large cake.  But the architecture caught my eye.

Picture 1450

Watch out, Santa!  There’s a pine-tree-shaped alien!  It’s already eaten the inhabitants of that isolated cabin.

Picture 1451

I am sure these are cakes for those evil bratty girls who think they’re angels.  The parents get it for her in a bout of wishful thinking.  That look on her face… she’s hiding something.

Picture 1452

I’ve noticed more cookies have been incorporated in the cakes this year, and that’s a good thing.

Picture 1461

Like this one.

Picture 1495

And this one.

Picture 1463

And here they are wheels for a train.  It’s a train, right?

Picture 1460

If not aliens, we have the Big Bad Wolf sneaking up on Santa wearing a gouged sheep on his head.

Picture 1458

“Strawberry fields for-e-vah.”

Picture 1456

There’s that wolf again.

Picture 1453

On a sleepy Christmas morning, this would pick me up.

Picture 1466

Snowman’s happy to see me.

Picture 1464

Monkey-penguins on an igloo.

Picture 1468

Nothing says winter like… um, blueberry cake.

Picture 1454

In my opinion, this is the best one.  The Korean title loosely translates as “My First Snowman Experience Story.”

Inspired by Princess Leia.

Dunkin Donuts

Picture 1492

Dunkin is one of the most low rent of the chains with Christmas cakes.  They didn’t even have any on display.  I had to make do with this cardboard cut out.

Baskin Robbins

Picture 1486

Look!  This cute penguin is wearing the skin of another penguin on its head.  A tribute to “Silence of the Lambs.”

Baskin Robbins does its ice cream cakes.  How else do they stay in business during this season?  (I did see inside that they had a Boston Cream Pie flavor this month… may need to investigate further.)  Now, I remember at home that Baskin Robbins cakes were combinations of cake and ice cream, since cake and ice cream go well together.  In Korea, ice cream cakes have no actual cake.  They’re ice cream molds.

Picture 1475

Snowman.  Most appropriate ice cream cake ever.  At Baskin Robbins, you get only one holiday.  And it’s a “Happy Holiday.”

Picture 1476

B-R likes to stack these ice cream chunks.  Should someone warn Santa that the track is out?  Oh, it’s a “Back to the Future 3” theme.

Picture 1477

Nazi Penguin.  “Heil!”

Picture 1480

Cute little chunky bear.  Sorta reminds me of Madam Trash Heap.

Picture 1481

Prison for Mushroom.

Picture 1514

The selling of the cakes continues from December 23rd and 24th, and into the late night.  Even midnight.  Young ladies stand outside selling the last cakes, calling on customers to try free samples.  This nice woman was more conservatively dressed than some of the cake hawkers I have seen on Christmas midnights.  It’s a surreal experience.  Women yelling about Christmas cakes.  Middle aged men doing the last-minute rush for gifts and cakes.

A Korean silent night.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates on the world of Korean food.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_4"] [sg_popup id=3]
%d bloggers like this: