Christmas in Japan by Efrot Weiss

Christmas in Japan by Efrot WeissChristmas in Japan by Efrot Weiss.  Efrot is long term Japan resident and good friend who writes a monthly column for the Tokyo American Club (TAC) Intouch Magazine. BestLivingJapan will be sharing Efrot’s articles about Japan & Intl cultural difference throughout 2015. Thank you Efrot and TAC!

Christmas in Japan by Efrot Weiss

Japan welcomes the holiday season with a profusion of dazzling LED lights and extravagant store displays. It’s hard to believe that the country wasn’t introduced to the tradition until the Meiji period, with the arrival of Americans and Europeans.

While December 25 was established as a national holiday in the United States in 1870, Christmas took longer to gain popularity in Japan. In a decidedly Japanese twist on Christmas, the holiday is seen as one for couples and celebrated on Christmas Eve (Christmas Day remains a regular work and school day).

On December 24, restaurants are booked for intimate dinners. “Ever since I had a boyfriend, Christmas Eve was a special day,” explains Japan resident Aya Higa. “We would make a reservation at a nice restaurant, dress up and exchange presents.”

For a lot of Japanese families, Christmas Eve is about feasting on fast-food chicken and sponge cake, adorned with whipped cream and strawberries.

In other parts of the world, Christmas is a family holiday. In addition to an elaborate meal and gift giving, families observe their own traditions.

“Every year for the past 40 years, my parents host a ‘yule log hunt’ on our family property in rural Minnesota. My father rises early in the morning to hide two logs of wood adorned with Christmas ribbon and ornaments. When the guests arrive, he reads poem clues about where the logs are hidden in the nearly 200 acres of land. Then everyone trudges through the snow to find the yule logs. Once found, they are made into a huge bonfire, which is then followed by dinner,” says expat Katherine Hall.

The American adds that people, regardless of faith or nationality, appear infused with a sense of joy and peace at this time of year. “Everyone seems a bit more cheerful, generous and childlike,” she says. “To keep the Christmas spirit alive all year long would be such a wonderful thing.”

First published in the December 2013 issue of Tokyo American Club’s monthly magazine, iNTOUCH.


Christmas in Japan by Efrot Weiss


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