Though Christianity is reportedly growing among the Japanese, Christmas, as a religious holiday is not very widely celebrated. Christmas in Japan is seen more as a day to spread happiness or as a romantic day, and those displaying western decorations and Christmas lights are generally large businesses.
Similar to our Western Valentine’s Day, the comercialized Japanese Christmas encourages couples to spend Christmas Eve together and exchange presents, go for walks to look at the Christmas lights, or have a romantic meal, etc. Getting asked on a date at Christmas has pretty serious implications, and getting a reservation at a fancy restaurant on Christmas Eve can be difficult, so book your table early!
Though Christmas in Japan is primarily a day for adults, there may be still be parties for children, with sponge cake covered in creamy frosting and strawberries, dances, games, and gifts given by the Japanese gift bringer: Hoteiosho, the Buddhist god of good fortune who is said to brings gifts to children at Christmas.
Schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th in Japan as it is not a national holiday. Although it is a recent tradition (since the 1970s) to eat Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas Day.
Merry Christmas in Japanese is Meri Kurisumasu. The two main forms of written Japanese will write it like this:
- Hiragana: めりーくりすます
- Katakana: メリークリスマス
So while Christmas in Japan tends to resemble Valentine’s Day, the Japanese New Year’s Day would more closely resemble our Christmas, a time for family and friends to gather together for food and celebrations.
Have you been to Japan at Christmas time? Please share your experiences with us in the comments!
- Boy/Girl Japanese Traditional Costume Coloring Page
- Japanese Crafts for Children
- Japanese Sponge Cake Recipe
- See a Japanese Christmas Ad for KFC
- Japanese Famous Art Lesson
- Japanese Wood Block Print Lesson with Free Printable
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