Japanese Christmas

メリ クリスマス!!
Meri Kurisumasu!

Merry Christmas, everyone! :) In many western countries including North America and much of Europe, Christmas is one of the biggest holidays of the year. This is because many western countries have Christian roots, so the celebration of Christmas has been ingrained in our culture.
But how does Japan, with about a 1% Christian population, celebrate Christmas?

The people of Japan practice two major religions: Buddhism (from India and China), and Shinto (Japanese mysticism). Most Japanese people practice some sort of hybrid of both religions. Furthermore, neither religion celebrates Christmas because the birth of Christ is not relevent to either Buddhism or Shintoism. It's not even a national holiday.

But because of western influence, Christmas is recognized and practiced in Japan--a little differently than you might think.

  • Students and workers in Japan don't get a holiday off for Christmas. Students' winter break may happen to include Christmas, but the winter break is mainly for the New Years celebration.
  • Many western traditions with Christmas have been adopted by the Japanese, such as decorating Christmas trees, going to Christmas parties, and exchanging gifts with loved ones.
  • The Japanese have made up a Christmas tradition of their own: eating Christmas cake! Christmas cake isn't fruit cake, it's just a nicely decorated cake that you eat on Christmas. Why? Because it's Christmas of course!
  • There's one part of Christmas that the Japanese don't fully understand: Santa Claus. According to my American-born Japanese teacher (who lived in Japan for quite some time), KFC fast food restaurants will dress up a figurine of Colonel Sanders in Santa Claus garb. Maybe it's the white hair that confused them... Here's a whole list of strange Santas in Japan: [click]

I hoped you had fun learning about Christmas in Japan! :) Thanks for reading, and have a merry Christmas! ♥