Tuesday, December 27, 2016


     In Japan, the most practiced religions are Buddhism and Shinto.  Because of this, Christmas is a more commercial event, much like Valentine's Day or Mother's Day in the United States.  Furthermore, the main celebration revolves around Christmas Eve and not the day that is honored in the West as the day of Christ's birth.
   Though Christmas is not generally celebrated in honor of the birth of Christ, Japanese families enjoy the same focus on the importance and joy of generosity and giving.  Gift giving on Christmas is common.  In families, children believe that only Santa Kuroshu (Santa Claus)gives gifts on Christmas, so children do not give gifts to their parents.  It is believed that Santa has eyes in the back of his head so he can always see what the children are doing.  Children who do not believe in Santa don't receive gifts.


    Christmas trees and lights on homes are becoming more and more common in Japan.  Trees are often decorated with paper lanterns, origami, tinsel, and other ornaments.  Community decorations are becoming more prevalent in places like dance halls and arcades.  Stores are decorated and they sell Christmas items weeks before Christmas in Japan, much like stores in America and other Christian majority countries.  Some families even display manger scenes to tell the Christmas story, though it is thought of more along the lines of the story of Santa.
   Japanese families often enjoy a Christmas Cake on Christmas Eve.  The Christmas Cake is usually a sponge cake covered with strawberries and whipped cream.  Stores try to sell their cakes before Christmas morning, as they don't sell as well after Christmas.  Because of this, the Japanese sometimes sarcastically refer to women over the age of thirty as an "unsold Christmas Cakes".  As for other traditional food fare, turkey is difficult to find in Japan.  Most families try to celebrate with a chicken dinner, preferably the wildy popular Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Japanese Christmas cake


     Much like Valentine's Day in America, it is important for many women to have someone special with which to spend Christmas with.  Christmas Eve night is romanticized as a night of special time and gifts between two people who love each other.  It is considered sad to not have someone special with which to spend this "night for romance" with.
   Though the Christian faith only represents about 1% of the Japanese population, this originally a Christian holiday,  has become very popular and meaningful in Japan.  Over 75% of those polled report that Christmas holds special meaning for them.

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