Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Christmas season goes bigger



Christmas season goes bigger

Theam has decorated his patisserie in gingerbread.
Theam has decorated his patisserie in gingerbread. Sam Walker

Christmas season goes bigger

There are gingerbread houses, and then there is Pisith Theam’s gingerbread patisserie.

The executive sous chef at Siem Reap’s Park Hyatt took the traditional gingerbread house to a new level this year, plastering the arched walls of the hotel’s Glasshouse Deli and Patisserie with the sweet treat.

The Khmer chef, who does not celebrate Christmas himself, was nonetheless excited about his latest creation. “It is purely for guests,” Theam says. “So when they come in here, they feel like home.”

The gingerbread house took a team of seven a month to create, and nine hours to install. The project used 200 kilograms of flour and 130 kilograms of sugar.

His team also created a smaller gingerbread house, this year modelled on Wat Bo pagoda. Theam says he is already thinking about creating Angkor Wat in gingerbread next year.

Likewise, Siem Reap has embraced Christmas – or at least all its trimmings.

The Christmas trees and lights all over the city seem to be bigger and better than last year. A large Christmas tree dominates the foyer of the Khmer restaurant Malis, albeit with a Cambodian touch: it is made of 180 palm-leaf hats.

Malis master chef Luu Meng says his team created the Christmas tree to support a local community in Pra Dak district. He has also noticed more businesses are putting up Christmas decorations this year, adding that many adopt an international calendar and celebrate foreign holidays like Halloween.

“Siem Reap is a really touristic town, and I guess that business owners would like to attract [tourists], as they are most of the time celebrating these holidays in their country of origin,” he says. “Cambodian people are also more open than [ever] before to international celebrations.”

Borey Soch, the room division manager at Apsara Residence, agrees that Christmas is getting bigger in Siem Reap and hotels are more creative. His hotel also features a Christmas tree with palm-leaf hats.

But despite the decorations and the gift giving, Soch points out a disconnect.

“Mostly [Cambodians] don’t know exactly what the meaning is or what the background of Christmas is,” he says.

Minea Loung loves Christmas and all the decorations around town, although she said they are not as elaborate as Phnom Penh. As a Cambodian Christian, she celebrates the religious holiday, but she understands why so many local people also enjoy the lights and decorations.

“No matter what [holiday] it is, we’re going to just go with the flow,” she says.

She adds that for many people, the holiday is new, especially those from the countryside. “It’s kind of like wow, for them,” Loung says.

The spelling of the chef's name 'Pisith Theam' has been corrected.

MOST VIEWED

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the

  • S’ville set to turn into ‘second Shenzhen’

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance has awarded a master plan consultancy contract to top Chinese institute for the development and transformation of Preah Sihanouk province into a “Model Multi-Purpose Special Economic Zone”, Southeast Asia’s next logistics and resort hub and innovation centre. The