Christmas in Japan is not widely celebrated like you’ll see in other countries, with the most obvious reason being that most Japanese people are not Christian. Because Japan’s dominant religious standing is not Christian, Christmas is not seen as a national holiday. School and work resume normally during Christmas day, with the celebrating (for those who do it) after work or school hours. Many schools, however, hold Christmas recitals or plays for the children to partake in and shops will decorate their shops with evergreen or ornaments. Even though it’s not a national holiday, people do participate in it!
For those who do celebrate, it can be very festive… And even a bit quirky. Why quirky? Well, Japan has a thing for chicken– KFC Christmas chicken. That’s right: Kentucky Fried Chicken. To be able to have the KFC Christmas dinner, people will reserve months in advance for the finger lickin’ goods! Then after that, they’ll stand in long lines to pick up their orders… Wow!
The whole KFC tradition sprung about around the 70’s, when people were trying to find turkey to eat for Christmas but were having trouble… So KFC made a huge advertisement promotion with their famous fried chicken and wine for $10, which turned out to be a huge hit! Now the package includes Christmas cake and champagne for $40. Crazy, right?! But I suppose it’s tradition. 😛 (By the way, if you want to know more about the KFC tradition, please look at K. Annabelle Smith’s article, “Why Japan is Obsessed with KFC on Christmas”!)
Talking about tradition, there’s another (less-strange) one: Christmas Cake! The Christmas cake is actually not your ordinary fruit cake, but rather a sponge cake filled with strawberries and whipped cream. Sounds kind of like strawberry shortcake, huh?
Although people do celebrate Christmas in Japan, it’s more for couples than anything. Christmas Eve is specially for couples, with good eateries and events during that day. Reservations are needed for this day, too… It’s hard to do anything last-minute at this time of year.
Do you know of any other things that Japan does for Christmas? Have you ever experienced a Japanese Christmas? Comment below! 🙂