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.

How?
And why?
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!

//Lovisa

Blog using your mobile phone - One of the best blogging apps on the market - click here!

Likes

Comments

One thing I have always been interested in is culture. When I travel to a country I´ve never been to I want to know how people there live and how different it can be from what I am used to. I have only traveled within Europe but I am so excited to see other continents, for example Africa and among the countries I want to see is, South Africa.

Some things about South Africa is very interesting, such as the multicultural society. South Africa has a lot of different cultures and therefore they have several official languages in purpose to preserve their cultures as they are. About a tenth of the South African inhabitants has English as their mother tongue but many also have it as their second language. Among the other languages there are some I can´t even pronounce, for example there is: isiNdebele, Setswana and Xitsonga.

One thing I relate to culture is food since most countries have their very own specialty. The food in South Africa is influenced by many different cultures and has therefore a few specialties. Most traditional food is cooked over open fire or in pots. There are some things that are more typical than others for example there is:

Morogo which is a kind of wild spinach. If you mix that with butter-braised onions and tomato, or mix it into maize porridge you have very favored South African treat.
Amadumbe is a sweet potato mash with peanuts, it´s a simple dish but I bet it´s really good. In restaurants you can even get it topped with a drizzle of honey.
Chakalaka is a spicy delight that accompanies a main course and consists of grated carrots, green peppers, sliced onions, vinegar, chili and one more ingredient that makes your Chakalaka different from everybody else’s.
Boerewors is a variety of spicy sausage and is char-grilled over an open fire and then covered in mustard and tomato sauce.

When I think about South Africa my thoughts goes directly to dance and music. In South Africa dance is the way of life, the music and rhythms are found in their hearts. They dance at wedding ceremonies, at rituals and for small things in the everyday life. In videos that I have seen they express happiness and you can see how much they embrace their culture.

As far as music goes they use drums very much to create a distinct baseline to follow. Other instruments can also be used, but much depends on the nationality of the people creating the music. For example, Zulu is one of many nationalities in South Africa and traditional music to them is based on their vocals along with a traditional dance. Gospel in general is the best-selling music genre in South Africa.
If you press the link below you will hear traditional Zulu music along with some pictures of the people, and some of the South African landscape.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8rsEodZ8tc

This post was written by Jessica


On the first picture you can see some meat being cooked and some interesting mixes, on the second one you can see one of those spicy boerewors I mentioned. The two pictures in the middle are of people dancing. The last picture shows how clothes can look in some parts of South Africa.

Likes

Comments

Bob Marley, Rastafari, Haile Selassie, Reggae, Ackee and saltfish. That ´s just a little bit that has with the Jamaican popular culture to do. And that’s what I’m going to write about. Popular culture in Jamaica.

When you speak of Jamaica, many people thinks of Bob Marley and Reggae and that is not so strange. Reggae was “born” in Jamaica in the 1960’s and 1970’s. It has after that been spread all over the world. The old reggae is still alive but with the years it has developed a bit, the instruments has been modernized. Bob Marley and the Wailers, Jimmy Cliff, Peter Tosh, Toots and The Maytals are examples on reggae artist from Jamaica that made the music famous in the rest of the world. The lyrics is often about everyday issues, social issues and politics and also to bless Jah. Rastafari is a thing that you may think of when you hear of Jamaica and some of the artists. Reggae music is nearly connected to Rastafari.

Rastafari or Rastafari Movement is a monotheistic religion and a social movement. It is inspired of Ethiopian Movement. The Bible is a holy. The Hole Piby that was written in Anguilla in the 1920’s is also important. It says that the Ethiopians are Gods people, they sometimes says that they are in Babylon’s captivity. The movement has built a myth about Ras Tafari that became the emperor in Ethiopian, Haile Selassie in 1930. They see Selassie as a reincarnation of God, called Jah. Today it is about one million that believes in Rastafari. Leonard Howell did published The Promised Key, a “manual” for Rastafari- believers. Some of the things that he wrote has been discard but the foundation is still left. The first and most important thing is that you need to accept Haile Selassie as the highest and the only leader of the black people in the world. Jah is a black, living God that walks around on earth with us and al Africans have a bit of it in them self. A God in heaven is just a lie that white people has made. They have a different language, they have some words from the African language and they say “I-man” instead of I and they say ”I and I” instead of we and that is because they are pointing on that they are all a part of a whole.

Their national dish is Ackee and saltfish. The ackee fruit was imported to The Caribbean from Ghana and saltfish is just what is sound like, slat fish. The fish should be soaked overnight to eliminate most of the salt. When you prepare the dish you sautéed the fish with boiled ackee, onions, Scotch Bonnet pepper, tomatoes and spices. It can be garnished with bacon and tomatoes. A funny fact about the ackee is that if you pick an ackee from the tree and it’s not open it can lead to death because then they are toxic.

This was a bit of information about Jamaica that I think is interesting. Thanks for me, Anna.

Likes

Comments

This is our first post and we will continue to upload entries where we compare cultures in differente parts of the world.

Likes

Comments