How Christmas Is Celebrated In Japan

Christmas is an important holiday in Japan just like it is in America, but the way that it's celebrated isn't quite the same. Let's take a look at what you can expect should you ever find yourself celebrating Christmas there.


It's Not About Jesus

Japan does have a small Christian population, but the vast majority of Japanese citizens follow Buddhist and Shinto traditions. That means that for most people, Christmas is a secular holiday, not a religious one. Christmas also isn't a universal day off from school or work. Though it's often absorbed by the the New Year break that students get, many people do work on Christmas day.

KFC Is A Big Deal

Christmas in America doesn't exactly have a set menu, but it usually involves a home cooked meal - not take out fried chicken. Thanks to a successful ad campaign in the 70's the meal that many Americans eat because there's nothing else available is a special Christmas treat in Japan. To get their hands on that crunchy gold, Japanese people often have to reserve their KFC up to two months advance. It's not as ridiculous as it sounds, though. KFCs in Japan also sell sparkling wine, chocolate cake, and other delicacies that make the effort worthwhile. Besides KFC, Japanese people also enjoy Christmas cake, a tasty sponge cake covered in strawberries and whipped cream. Christmas Eve Is A Romantic Holiday

In America, most people spend Christmas Eve either preparing for Christmas itself, attending a church service, or just chilling at home with family. In Japan, Christmas Eve is actually a romantic holiday akin to Valentine's Day. Couples exchange gifts and go out for fancy dinners. The New Year - which many Americans spend partying - is far more important for spending time with family and observing religious rituals. Santa Claus Is Considered Creepy

While Santa Claus might be a beloved figure for American children, in Japan he's seen as a little bit creepy. If you think about it, that's actually pretty fair - a dude who watches you all year and meticulously judges your behavior, then breaks into your house to give you toys is a little weird.


Despite this, creepy Santa is well-loved in Japan. Tokyo even has a Santa Con every year in December, where attendees dress like Santa and try to make him look as unsettling as possible. Do these Japanese Christmas traditions sound fun?

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