Compared to predominantly Christian countries where Christmas is usually celebrated with your family, in Japan, Christmas is most of the time spent with your lover or friends. What it is for Christians a religious holiday with a very special meaning, for Japanese people is more like a romantic day when presents are exchanged between friends, family or lovers.

Many people get an excuse for Christmas to get out of the daily routine and try something new like going to a fancy restaurant with their lovers, for example, or just simply enjoy the festive atmosphere that is surrounding the town.

Christmas here seems to be more similar to Valentine’s Day in western countries. However, rather than the 25th of December, Christmas Eve is more celebrated by the Japanese because during that day, many exchange gifts or go out in town to enjoy the Christmas lights or grab something to eat.

Traditional Christmas Dishes in Japan

Talking about eating out during the winter holidays, you will need to book in advance as soon as possible otherwise you will remain without a place to eat especially on the 24th or 25th of December.

During the Christmas Day, Japanese usually buy Christmas cakes and most of the time is a simple sponge cake with strawberries and whipped cream(also called shortcake; ショートケーキin Japanese), accompanied by the traditional Japanese Christmas Meal: Kentucky Fried Chicken!

Many will be surprised to know that you need to place an order in advance so you can eat fried chicken during Christmas in Japan.

Christmas is a very busy period for KFC here and the main reason why eating fried chicken has become a tradition during Christmas in Japan is because of a very successful campaign in 1974 “Kentucky for Christmas”. Since then, many Japanese order Kentucky every 25th of December.

Do people go to work on Christmas?

As Christmas is not considered a national day in Japan, people will go to work on that day, but schools are usually off because the children have winter holidays.

What do the Japanese New Years have in common with Christmas?

An event very similar to Christmas in Christian countries, when families gather together and celebrate is the New Year. During Oshougatsu (お正月/New Year’s), people send greeting cards, have New Years’ meal and celebrate from December 31st to January the 4th.

Although Christmas here is more about fun and being happy, the festive atmosphere present in the western countries doesn’t change much and the Christmas lights and many special menus you can only enjoy during this time in Japan are available until 26th of December, so if you are in Japan during the winter holidays, how about try enjoying a Japanese Christmas?

By - cinnamonellie.