How the Japanese Celebrates Christmas
Filled with decors and lights in every corner, Japan is also one of the best places to celebrate Christmas.
Different from other Western countries, Christmas in Japan is not a national holiday. In fact, it is more of a commercial event. Expect a bit of diversity when it comes to the celebration itself. Since the number of Christians in the country is relatively, low, they do not consider the event as the birth of Jesus (unlike in other western countries). There is only a little difference though. The customs and traditions taking place in the country are also similar to the celebrations of the Christian countries.
Christmas is romantic in Japan. More than the lights and decorations all through the streets, couples get into romantic mood during this day. Like Valentine’s Day, it is an occasion where men express their love for women. It is a quality time to spend with special someone. Teddy bears, flowers, rings and other jewelry items are some of the most common gifts women receive during this occasion. The Christmas celebration in Japan concentrates mainly on young people and not in family. People say that Christmas is very crucial for single women since they need to have someone to spend the Christmas Eve with. The whole night must be very special and romantic for them.
Unlike in the Philippines, celebrations in Japan take place on Christmas Eve and not on the actual Christmas day, which is December 25. Preparations begin several weeks before December 24 where shopping season begins from the beginning of December. Numbers of people spend their money on Christmas trees, Santa Claus item, seasonal items and other decorations. Just like in other western country, Japanese people also love to decorate their homes with evergreens and Christmas lights.
Though the celebration is mostly for couple, gift giving can still be observed during the occasion. Handling over presents to friends and family members is also quite popular in this country. Parents give presents to their children. However, unlike in other countries, children in Japan do not give presents to their parents. The reason behind this tradition is the main fact that Santa is the one who brings presents to children. Once you grow up and no longer believe in Santa, presents are no longer given. Japanese children also receive small envelopes that contain money, which they call O-toshidama. Only good children receive these envelopes though.
If there is turkey dinner across the North Atlantic, over 3.6 million Japanese celebrate Christmas with a Kentucky fried chicken. This tradition started back in 1970 and now, KFC Japan creates a special Christmas party in every household. The shop actually sells up to 1.5 million during the festive season. Most Japanese spend Christmas Eve queuing at KFC branches across the city.
Christmas cake is also a traditional Japanese Christmas food. However, different from UK or American fruitcake, Japanese style Christmas cake is often a white cream and not filled with fruits. It is more of a sponge cake frosted with whipped cream topped with strawberries and a chocolate plate, which says Merry Christmas.
Another festive food in Japan is osechi-ryori. It is a dish packed in layers of lacquer boxes, called jubako. It includes:
▪ Kobumaki – Salmon cooked in kelp served in rolls
▪ Kuromame – Simmered sweet black beans
▪ Datemaki – Sweet egg roll
▪ Kurikinton – Mashed Sweet Potato with Sweet Chestnuts
▪ Kinpira Gobo – Root vegetables that are stir-fried and glazed with soy sauce, sake, and sugar
▪ Tazukuri – Dried Sardines in a teriyaki sauce
▪ Namasu – Thinly sliced uncooked pickled vegetables and seafood – marinated in rice vinegar
Though there are differences in their celebration, the important thing is that love is everywhere during Christmas Season.