Do you like mulled wine? A white winter and meatballs? Well - then maybe you should celebrate Christmas in Sweden. Because a white winter away, is Japan. And they lack more Christmas elements than just mulled wine!
Christmas has in most countries its origin from Christianity, but Japan isn’t one of them. In the matter of fact, most Japans isn’t even Christians. So why do they celebrate?
Well, the answer is actually quite simple. The Japanese sort of imported Christmas.
And from where?
The answer is that Japan imported Christmas from the west. From the United states, if you wanna be more specific. We can start with some history! In the 1600-th century, Japan was visited by European missionaries. The missionaries puropse was to convert Japan into Christianity, but their plan didn’t work out. Christianity became banished in the year of 1712, and Christmas alongside with it. The century’s kept going in the same direction, and Japan didn’t start to get influenced by the west until the 2000-th century. After the second world war, the United states occupied Japan. That led to the country being influenced by the Americans, and in this case, their romantic Christmas movies. Japan started to change, and if the Japanese that forbid Christmas all those years ago could see Japan today – they wouldn’t believe their eyes!
Shibuya in Tokyo in the beginning of the 1900-th century, versus Shibuya in Christmas times in 2013
Today, the Japanse Christmas is a very commercial holiday. The holiday more resembles what we would like to call a Valentine’s day, since the Japanese sort of has dedicated this holiday simply to dating. It’s not considered a national holiday (= there is still school and work to attend to), but it’s still a day that you share with your loved ones, or your friends. The typical Japanese Christmas also focus on the children – little parties with games are often organized, so that is usual for families with kids.
But of course, there is also typical Christmas traditions. There is decorations (like in the pictures above), presents, and of course – food!
The Japanese Christmas food isn’t anything alike the American, even though their Christmas origin from the States. The food may not be the typical American Christmas food, but in the matter of fact, the food actually origins from the States. Maybe you’re asking yourself what I mean right now. The answer is simple: under the Japanese Christmas, they eat food from the American fast-food Restaurant KFC!
The tradition of eating KFC for Christmas in actually so serious, that if you want the chance to get a table at one of these restaurants, you would have to book a table. And maybe even months prior to Christmas! This has started the popular saying: “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (Kentucky for Christmas), and it is easy to see why.
But naturally, they eat more than just KFC.
They also eat cake!
Japanese Christmas cake
The Japanese eat strawberry shortcake (which is a creation that usually is made of a sponge cake with wiped cream and strawberries) for Christmas. That may seem weird to us, but it’s considered a tradition there!
So, that about covers it!
As a summary, you can say that even though Japan got their Christmas from the west, our traditions differ in more ways than just mulled wine.
As the Japanese would say.. メリークリスマス (Merīkurisumasu)!
And as we would say.. merry Christmas!