Christmas is a holiday so popular around the world that many cultures celebrate it very similarly. Some cultures have similar holidays, such as Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. In Japan, Christmas is quite a different holiday.
Non-Religious Christmas Celebration
Few Japanese folks are Christian, so Christmas isn’t celebrated with religious tones. Instead, it is celebrated somewhat more like Valentine’s Day. Christmas is a day for couples to spend time together and give each other romantic gifts. Those who are single eagerly try to find a partner to share in the festive cheer, and because most bars and clubs are still open on Christmas Eve, they still have time to do so. There are still Christmas trees and lights, which couples will walk around town to see together.
Japanese Children Celebrating Christmas
For children, Santa Claus is still around and there are presents to be opened, but in Japan it is considered rude to tear through the wrapping paper out of excitement. Because presents aren’t quite as big a deal in Japan, last-minute Christmas shopping isn’t as much of a frenzy. Rather than malls and stores, you can expect to find the biggest crowds at Tokyo Disneyland and Disneysea, as these are popular holiday destinations. Their Christmas parades are very festive, and the prices are much lower than Disney parks in other countries.
The Japan Chicken Dinner Christmas tradition
In the early 70s, KFC advertised “Kentucky for Christmas” because turkey is a popular holiday dinner, but there are no turkeys in Japan. KFC is in such high demand for Christmas in Japan that many people will call in reservations months ahead of time and there are long lines for that finger lickin’ good chicken. After a tasty chicken dinner, it’s common to have a Christmas cake for dessert, typically a strawberry shortcake rather than the expected fruitcake.
United Spirit of Christmas
Although Christmas in Japan may seem strange and foreign to someone outside the country, they still share the qualities that make Christmas so beloved: the feelings of love and cheer. Whether you’re American, Japanese, or otherwise, there is always something to appreciate and celebrate on Christmas Day.