Christmas in Japan

Today I discussed Christmas stuff with my Texan friend. Since the content was very interesting, I would love to introduce Japanese people’s Christmas here.
Of course how to spend depends on individual.
When I was a child, of course I also believed in Santa Claus. Our Santa Claus is wearing “Kimono” and hanging a “sword”, and his haircut is “samurai” style. Naaaaaaaah, of course NOT!!!
Our Santa Claus is also a western guy who is choppy and plumply. He is wearing red costume like western people think. He also has white long beard and mustache. He is quite same as western culture. However, one different thing is that he can speak Japanese. On TV or other mass medias he speaks Japanese fluently. When western people see it, they might think that it is hilarious.

I do not know each Japanese house serves some sweets and some tea, but in my house my mother prepared something sweet and to drink for Santa Claus. I guess since she prefers Japanese snacks to western snacks, she always served Japanese snacks called “senbei” and two cups of Japanese green tea for him in the kitchen table. When I was young, I did not know why she prepared two cups, but after several years  I knew the reason.

Meanwhile, we decorate Christmas fake tree inside. Compared to America, our tree size is very compact because our houses are smaller. When I was a child, I had not seen big Christmas lights so many times. However, right now the Christmas light is very common. I think the blue LED ( Light Emitting Diode) is discovered by a Japanese company. After the blue LED was produced, we can enjoy various colors LED here and there.

On Christmas day we buy a whole Christmas cake and cut it off. And then we eat a piece of Christmas cake. I think that it is  big different from America. Our cake has various types. However, most of them are decorated by lots of white whip cream or chocolate whip cream and strawberries. That is a common Christmas cake.

Since I was born in the western region, our parents house has no chimney. So, my mother told my sister and me that we had to keep opening our bathroom’s window for Santa Claus because we have no chimney. I believed that in my regions Santa Claus came into our house from the bathroom’s window. I never doubted how such a big guy came from the small window.

After I turned 16 years old and started to go out with my boyfriend, I tended not to spend Christmas with my family. I tended to go out with my boyfriend to see movies. I think in Japan when couples have young children, they spend Christmas with their children. However, after their children grow up, they do not spend Christmas together. Our Christmas are much for couples and boyfriends or girlfriends rather than for families.
I think that Christmas is one of the most important events for couples and lovers.

Christmas gift is also most important part in our Christmas. In young couples and lovers, they enjoy exchanging gifts. Parents and grandparents give gifts to their children and grandchildren. In my case I always give my love to my husband, and I receive kind of expensive stuff from him every year.

I’m curious about your country’s Christmas. So, after you read my blog entry, please leave a comment. I’m looking forward to reading lots of interesting stories.

Japanese Christmas cake


Japanese  senbei


7 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. aelfwyne
    Dec 08, 2010 @ 22:23:10

    Christmas in the US is very different for many people.

    I grew up in the 1980s with a very traditional Christmas. We would set up a Christmas tree soon after Thanksgiving. The tree would very frequently be very large and heavily decorated with a lot of lights, glass ornaments, garland, tinsel, and an angel on top. Gifts would collect under the tree as Christmas got closer, but we knew “Santa” would bring a few more Christmas night. The TV news would track Santa on the weather radar. We would usually get to open one gift on Christmas Eve.

    Christmas morning, we would get up early and open presents at home. After that, we would go to my grandmother’s house in Houston. Since we lived in a rural area, it was about an hour’s drive. At my grandmother’s house, there would be all my cousins, and we would have a Christmas dinner early in the afternoon after opening presents. The would be dozens of people there, the house would be packed.

    Because of the part of Texas I live in, we also didn’t have chimneys in most homes. Santa came in the back door for us :). Also, snow on Christmas almost never happens. I think it happened once in 1989 when I was 15 years old.

    Today, Christmas isn’t like that for me. I no longer believe in Christianity, and the family has grown much farther apart. I don’t have any reason to really participate, and I think there are a lot of people like me now.

    Christmas really costs too much money to celebrate in the US style. It literally forces a large number of people into debt. Often gifts are lavish and expensive. Some people feel they have to buy gifts for everyone they know. There is the day known as “Black Friday”, which is the day after Thanksgiving (the last Thursday in November, it’s another American holiday). That day stores nationwide have huge sales and open very early in anticipation of a buying frenzy. People line up at doors in freezing cold weather to get the best deals, and it is a madhouse. From that day until Christmas, retail stores are ridiculously busy. You cannot escape Christmas and Christian music this time of year either. It’s crazy.

    Despite all the talk about the “true meaning of christmas” that people like to talk about, it’s really just a shopping frenzy, and while many people still celebrate the kind of Christmas I remember from my childhood, even that was based as much on gifts as it was getting the whole family together. Many also have chosen to avoid the hassle of the holiday completely, as I’ve done now. However, if you have children, you really don’t have that choice as all of their friends will be getting a lot of gifts as well. Some children get so many gifts that they have to bag up the previous year’s gifts in huge garbage bags and throw them out!

    Just call me Scrooge. I think it is insane.


  2. Rowell
    Dec 09, 2010 @ 09:56:07

    Here in our country, Christmas is actually a good opportunity to meet your boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s family. Kind of embarassing if you ask me haha! What usually happens is that, for example: In 2010 the couple will celebrate Christmas with the girlfriend’s family, then in 2011 it will be the turn of the boyfriend’s family.

    That is the tradition here, I observe. Well, that is only an observation. I can’t speak from experience because I have never been able to meet a girlfriend lol. *sniff* *sniff* T_T


  3. Heart
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:04:29

    Such an interesting and timely post from you!! Sorry, haven’t been around much, call it busy with work and deadlines.. 😦 Back home in India, we would always watch Santa on TV and would wish our Christian friends and neighbors a very merry Christmas, but we would not have any elaborate celebrations ourselves.. There was no concept of chimney, gifts or even a tree for us.. But that was back in the 80’s and 90’s when I was growing up.. ! Now things have changed, stores and malls are heavily lit up, the mood is holiday spirit, of course Santa is still not known to come via the chimney or anything, but there is a huge awareness of his ‘presence’.. mostly with knowledge from TV and other Western movies.. 🙂
    Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!


  4. kaze
    Dec 10, 2010 @ 15:54:52

    When I was young, my dad chased me out of the house at like 5 pm on Heiligabend, December 24th, which is the main christmas day in Germany. I could come back at 6 pm and look under the christmas tree to receive the gift, that “der Weihnachtsmann” had left for me.
    In Germany, Weihnachtsmann and Nikolaus (Santa Claus) are different people.
    While Santa is a nice guy accompanied by a meanie that hits bad girls and boys with it’s stick, while Santa gives the good children sweets, the Weihnachtsmann is a mysterious guy living at the South Pole that comes to your house on Heiligabends and gives your parents your gift.

    Well. The dwarfes in my household are 14 and 12. They don’t believe in Nikolaus or Weihnachtsmann, but they do like their sweets and presents. We grownups don’t exchange gifts, it’s primarily set up for the kids.


  5. angelnjuly
    Dec 13, 2010 @ 13:10:13

    Funny!!! For most kids, Christmas is just for fun and receiving gifts. And even adults sometimes think the same~


  6. Tami Shepherd
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 21:00:02

    My family was pretty atypical for American families, and we didn’t do much except argue, which made it pretty normal for any day of the year. Since my family did nothing of importance, I’ll tell how Tom’s family has celebrated Christmas. I don’t know if my story is perfectly accurate, but I hope it’s at least entertaining.

    The kids would be sent to be early Christmas Eve, just so they were asleep when Santa would arrive. They would rarely be able to sleep, since they were excited about the prospect of Santa climbing down the chimney and placing all kinds of goodies under the tree. Since Tom’s Dad does not like artificial trees, he would go out and get a real tree each year in mid-December and the family would decorate it together. Any way, the kids were tucked in bed, the cookies and milk were always placed out and readily accessible to Santa should he want a snack. When the kids eventually did get to sleep, Santa would somehow find time in his busy schedule to place their presents under the tree. He would even go to the trouble of setting up trains or building bicycles right there in the house without disturbing a soul. Even more amazing, Santa would leave the boxes of said building projects in plain sight and the written instructions sprawled on the floor near where he obviously put these things together. Christmas morning, despite very little sleep, the kids would spring up at the slightest hint of dawn, dash into their parents room and beg the tired parents to get up so they could go open presents. Once the presents open and the living room looked like a scene from Dante’s Inferno, it was time for the kids to play and the parents to clean up. No doubt, they would curse Santa under their breath as they did so. Then it was on to cooking the Christmas turkey. Unlike many families, turkey was the main course on both Christmas and Thanksgiving, and pretty much that was the only time of the year that they ate turkey. Anyway, that’s how I have heard the story several times, and so I thought I’d relay what a typical Christmas was like in the “Shepherd” household for you.


  7. Trackback: 2010 in review « The Spirit of Japan

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