Christmas In Japan
I'm BACK! After buying a house and surviving the aftermath of that, I'm so excited to be working on blog posts again!! Perfect timing too for a culture post!
So I was strangely excited to do this post because there's always an anime episode in every series that has to do with Christmas. But then I always think that most of their popular religions such as Shinto and Buddhism, wouldn't call for Christmas as a holiday. Although people do practice Christianity there, I didn't think it would be so widespread as to call it a national holiday. Well, it turns out, it has entirely different meanings for them and isn't a nationally "celebrated" holiday!
Christmas has only recently become popular in the last few decades. Cards and presents for significant others and friends are popular traditions, but none of the actual religious element is there. Small children and family members are usually the focus of Christmas gift giving in most countries, but in Japan, it's almost exclusively lovers, crushes, possible relationships and close friends! There isn't a lot of religion behind it, although Santa is still a figurehead for the holiday. Santa is looked more like a gift giving, jolly friend and not so much as a religious figure as some people in America or other countries refer to him as a Saint; they simply refer to him as "Santa-San" which essentially is "Mr. Santa."
Christmas and Christmas Eve in Japan is treated in more of the way as Valentine's Day, where Christmas Eve is seen as the more important day. Many couples celebrate that day and exchange gifts and go out to dinner. Many businesses don't close for either day, as many people are out celebrating with friends or significant others rather than indoors celebrating with family all day like we do in America.
Another surprising thing I found about Japan and Christmas is that there are two widely popular food that is now even considered traditional Japanese Christmas food. Fried Chicken and Strawberry Shortcake. KFC's most popular time of year in Japan is Christmas, and they often have family deals and specials around that time to celebrate. They even recommend you place your Christmas order in advance they can get so busy! And their version of strawberry shortcake is a light vanilla cake with strawberry filling. Both of these foods make up a traditional Japanese Christmas dinner!
Looking at Christmas this way gives it more of a loose feeling, no pressure and a different perspective on how different countries can give things new meanings! So take this as0" make Christmas or any holiday your own and create your own family and friend traditions to make it uniquely yours!" Go to your favorite restaurant or go hiking that holiday morning or only exchange handmade gifts! I'm seriously considering changing every holiday meal to fried chicken now.