Sweden, the land of mulled wine and meatballs. Japan, the land of KFC and romance.
These two countries couldn’t be any more different! But apart from the food and the romance..
how exactly do they differ? Well, that is what we are going to find out now!
We can start off with answering a question from lasts week’s post. The question was if the Japanese actually exchanged gifts with each other. The answer is yes! They get each other gifts. The gift hype isn’t as big as in Sweden, but in the matter of fact, Japan actually does have a sort of Santa Claus. The Santa is written as
サンタさん、サンタクロース (Santa-san or Mr Santa), but they also have another gift-giver: Hoteiosho, who is a Japanese god. Hoteiosho isn’t really related to Christmas since he is a god in Buddhism, but he seems to appear around Christmas anyway
So, in the subject of gifts – how does Swedish gift traditions look?
Well, the first thing that is different is that we don’t have any god who brings gifts. We only have Santa. Santa is a big deal in Sweden, but maybe mostly if you celebrate with kids. You buy gifts and tell your kids they’re from Santa, but as the kids get older, that tradition kind of disappears with time. The gifts don’t disappear, though! You usually get each other some sort of gift, no matter the age. Maybe it’s hard to see the differences between the Swedish and the Japanese gift-subject, but there are some differences. For an example – they have a gift god. Their Christmas doesn’t evolve around the gifts. Sweden doesn’t have a god. Instead, Sweden has this really large gift culture. The gifts are important to us, but maybe not as important to them.
But of course, Christmas is about more than just gifts. It’s also about the food! There are some really big differences that can be discussed. For an example – why do they eat KFC and strawberry cake in Japan, while we here in Sweden have a whole buffet? The answer lies in history. The biggest reason to why Swedes celebrate Christmas is thanks to Christianity. But the thing is, that most Japanese people isn’t Christian. In Japan, they get their Christmas food from the States. They eat KFC because they thought that KFC was the typical American Christmas food. The Christmas food Sweden and Japan couldn’t really be more different! A lot of Swedes stand in the kitchen all day for the food, and the Japanese eat cake and fast-food! Isn’t that fascinating?
I think this was the biggest differences in our traditions. It’s the small things that matters though, as always in life! For an example, Christmas isn’t even an national holiday. But in Sweden, it’s one of the biggest events of the year! We dedicate an entire month for Christmas alone.
This was it! I hope you find it interesting!
As the Japanese would say.. メリークリスマス (Merīkurisumasu)!
And as we would say.. merry Christmas!