Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas in Japan

by aleks
Our November continuing education meeting for the SJG docents was about Japanese Holidays and Festivals (see post from November 9, 2011) - being so close to Christmas date it sparked my curiosity about how is Christmas celebrated in Japan.

Internet is a wondrous invention: with a few keystrokes I came across many interesting descriptions of Christmas celebrations  in Japan; below is one that really grabbed my attention - it comes from TanuTech webpage -  a translation, software localization and publishing company, located in Kawachinagano City, Osaka, Japan.  When you click a link to this webpage, please note that besides this article the website  has an interesting index of Japan related information from Japanese holidays, through Japanese recipes, information on Japanese castles, use and misuse of Japanese language, and more - all written by Billy Hammond, who has lived in Japan for more that two decades.


Christmas in Japan

By: Billy Hammond

Christmas in Japan is quite different from the Chrismas celebrated in most countries in which the population has a large percentage of Christians or a Christian heritage. Only 1/2 of 1% of the Japanese population is estimated to be Christian, with the majority of Japanese being tolerant of all faiths: Buddhism, Christianity, Shinto, etc. In spite of this, the Japanese are great lovers of festivals and celebrations, including Christmas.


December 25th is not a national holiday in Japan, although December 23rd, which is the birthdate of the present emperor, is. Although it is not an official holiday the Japanese tend to celebrate Christmas, especially in a commercial way. The Japanese celebrate Christmas Eve by eating a 'Christmas Cake' which the father of the family purchases on his way home from work (or his wife does in the case where he has to work on Christmas Eve). Stores all over carry versions of this Christmas cake and drop the price of it drastically on December 25th in order to sell everything out by the 26th. This has resulted in a rather interesting expression in which young girls are referred to as a 'Christmas cakes': marriageable until their 25th birthday and requiring heavy discounts to get married after their 25th birthdays.


In recent years, thanks to the marketing prowess of the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken, the Christmas Chicken Dinner has become quite popular. Many Japanese even make reservations for their "Christmas Chicken" ahead of time. People line up at their outlets to pick up their orders. As a result of KFC's brilliant advertising campaign, most Japanese now believe that Westerners celebrate Christmas with a chicken dinner instead of the more common ham or turkey.


Christmas Eve has been hyped by the T.V. media as being a time for romantic miracles. It is seen as a time to be spent with one's boyfriend or girlfriend in a romantic setting, so fancy restaurants and hotels are often booked solid at this time. It is often also a time when girls get to reveal their affections to boys and vice versa. Because of this, extending a girl an invitation to be together on Christmas Eve has very deep, romantic implications.
The rest of the article here...
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Wonder how do you say 'Merry Christmas' in Japanese? This About.com Japanese Language  has detailed instructions, including pronunciation - if you stay on that page too long, like I did,  you will also find out how to sing the  Rudolf Song in Japanese or get to the Japanese song/animation about Santa Claus (included below) - that webpage is full of holiday fun, so enjoy... :)

Merii Kurisumasu!

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