Have you wondered what Christmas is like in Japan? Christmas is not a national holiday in there, but it is certainly appreciated and observed in ways that differ from ours.
Missionaries first introduced Christmas to Japan in the mid-16th century. Christianity was banned in Japan during the early years of the Edo Era (circa 1603 until 1868), and the practice of celebrating Christmas masses was halted. During the Meiji Restoration (circa 1868 until 1912), the secular practice of Christmas once again gained popularity. Since roughly one or two percent of Japanese are Christian, they don’t commemorate the holiday in a religious sense. However, the Japanese are fond of Christmas and have created traditions of their own.
Throughout the years, Christmas in Japan has evolved into a celebration similar to New Year’s Eve in the United States, with the Japanese focusing more on parties with friends rather than on family gatherings. In some instances, Christmas is becoming a lot like Valentine’s Day for young adults. (Read this piece by RocketNews24 here.)
Family mealtime on Christmas Day in Japan consists of a fried-chicken dinner from KFC. Through creative marketing, the fast food chain has convinced the Japanese that Americans enjoy the Colonel’s original recipe in observance of Christmas. Other fast food chains have followed suit, and the Japanese pre-order buckets of fried chicken as early as Thanksgiving.
If you’re not interested in KFC for your Christmas feast, but you’d like to try something with Japanese flavor, Hakubai Japanese Restaurant at the Kitano Hotel is offering a Christmas Okonomi Kaiseki meal on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Check the Kitano’s website for details.
One of the more popular facets of Christmas in Japan is the Christmas cake. Generally strawberry shortcake, Christmas cakes in Japan are topped with whipped cream and a small figurine of Santa Claus and other popular characters. These Christmas cakes are in such high demand that orders must be placed in advance to ensure timely delivery.
You can find Japanese Christmas cakes here in New York City. Panya and BentOn Café are offering these sweet treats for the holidays. If you’re interested in discovering Christmas cakes in the Japanese style, you need to place your order now!
Will you celebrate Christmas with a Japanese flair?