As we mentioned briefly in an article we wrote earlier this month about Japanese New Years, Christmas is a far less family-centered holiday in Japan than it is in Western countries.
Instead, Christmas in Japan is a time for romance. Streets of major cities are filled with smiling couples walking hand in hand and restaurants and hotels are booked full, sometimes months in advance.
On the flip side, Christmas can be an extremely lonely time for those longing for some holiday affection but without anyone to give it to them. Single people therefore usually make it a rule to avoid going out on the 24 and 25—in fact, if you ever want to figure out if a Japanese person is single, just ask if they have plans for Christmas.
The lucky ones, however, generally follow the basic Christmas game plan outlined below!
1. Go on a romantic walk at one of the magnificent “Illumination” Christmas light displays on Christmas Eve. Here in Tokyo, the most well-known is at Omotesandō, an upscale shopping street in the Shibuya ward.
2、Have dinner at the restaurant that reserved in advanced (good luck finding a seat that night otherwise!). After your meal, eat Christmas cake for desert and finally, exchange gifts. Jewelry rings and necklaces are common examples for women.
3. After dinner, proceed to the hotel room that you reserved in advanced (some people opt for a sleep-over instead) and jingle all the way.
And that’s Christmas! Well, if you’ve got someone to share it with, that is.
Of course, it has become common in recent years for families with small children to celebrate at home—though even that is usually limited to a special fried chicken dinner sponsored by KFC, Christmas cake for desert and presents for the kids from Santa in the morning.
It seems that Christmas has also come to be celebrated as a couple’s holiday in our mainland neighbor, South Korea. Many couple even countdown to Christmas day and kiss when the clock strikes midnight ala Western New Years tradition. However, the holiday has yet to take root in the county and is probably only popular with young people in urban areas.
They say that no one takes a foreign tradition and makes it their own like the Japanese. But you’ve got to admit—assuming you want to go completely non-secular—it’s not that bad of an idea!
How will you be enjoying Christmas in your corner of the world?