Many of you may wonder how Japanese people celebrate Christmas. Holiday season is starting soon, so here is an article which summarizes all there is to know about December 25 traditions in Japan.

Christmas is originally a religious holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus, which is why it is mainly celebrated in the West (in countries of Christian tradition). In Japan, where there are very few Christians (Japanese people are mostly Bouddhist and Shintoist), Christmas is an imported commercial holiday, such as Halloween and Valentine's Day. Japanese people do not really care about Jesus: it is about celebrating the Santa Claus and offering gifts to children. Like many imported holidays in Japan, Christmas barely existed in the 20th century and its importance now increases exponentially every year.

'Merry Christmas' is written メリー クリスマス. It may be the opportunity to offer gifts to children, but Christmas in Japan is quite associated with love. On December 24 evening, in particular, young Japanese couples celebrate their love.

There is also a different culinary tradition for Christmas in Japan. During the 1970s, Western expatriates were looking for whole chickens or turkeys to eat on December 24 and 25. At the time, KFC was the only one to sale these. This tradition has spread progressively and today many Japanese eat roast chicken (ロースト チキン) for Christmas. KFC multiplies its sales 5 to 10 times in late december.

There are also more and more Christmas trees and decorations in the streets, especially in large cities. Tokyo is adorned with beautiful decorations as soon as early November.

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Posted by Gael
Editor in chief
Gael is founder and responsible for Kanpai's publication. In love with Japanese culture, he travels to Japan regularly since 2003 and shares his information and tips.
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