Winter is my least favorite season, but I do like the festive feel and the decorations that I see in my office and in the city of DC. I’m not a Christian so I don’t celebrate Christmas (anymore), but I like looking at decorated trees, listening to carols, and watching various christmas movies.
I did celebrate Christmas – when I was a child. In Japan, Christmas is celebrated in a totally different way, and I’d like to share some fun facts.
1. You eat roasted chicken (or KFC)
Turkey or ham for dinner? What are you talking about? We eat roasted chickens. Some say it’s because turkeys and hams are too big to fit into tiny Japanese fridge or ovens, but who knows. Also, KFC did a brilliant marketing to sell a bucket full of fried chickens for busy families, so you’d see fathers carrying Carnel Sanders bucket all across Japan.
2. We celebrate Christmas, but (almost) none of us are Christians
Only 1% of the Japanese population identify themselves as Christians. So why celebrate Christmas? We first celebrated Christmas in 1900, when Japan was pretty poor. It might have been that there was a movement to catch up with the West. Now it’s heavily commercialized – very, very much.
3. Christmas is for kids… until you get into college
In Japan, parents get kids presents, no reciprocation necessary. They really take their Santa role seriously, and they try very, very hard to conceal their identity. But when kids turn older, parents get tired of playing Santas, and break it to the kids that there is no Santa, and there will be no more presents. Reality hits you hard!
4. When you get in college – Christmas (eve) is for couples
Once present-deprived kids enter college (or highschool for mature ones), they meet the new meaning of Christmas. Suddenly, you learn that Christmas eves should be spent with your significant other, and if you’re single, you will feel that you are the most miserable person on Earth. All nice restaurants and hotels are immediately filled up with reservations, and the singles roam the streets to get drinks to ease their loneliness. I think it is comparable to the Valentine’s Day in the U.S.
Some of my collleagues in the office seem to be pretty stressed out getting Christmas presents for their big family, but I think the act of thinking about your loved ones and getting presents is a nice gesture – as long as it’s not so commercialized.
Lastly, here’s the decoration I found in my office today – happy holidays everyone!