Christmas is celebrated not because of religious reasons but because of its festive mood. It is celebrated like Valentine’s Day and is the most romantic time of the year for couples. Young couples reserve dinner at high-end restaurants and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve while many others hold parties.
Unlike in western countries, Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan. One week later, we have New Year Holiday and it is the time when all members of the family get together, visit temples and have New Year treats together, but Christmas is a day for partying for young people.
Although traditional western Christmas is not recognized, the shopping malls, department stores, and restaurants are still brightly illuminated and displayed with the images of reindeer, Santa Claus, and snow for the day. Some children from churches also go out and sing Christmas carols to different houses.
Christmas cake is a large part of the Japanese tradition. Its spongy texture with whipped cream topped with strawberries and a Santa Claus image made of sugar and small candles on top. They are sold on every corner street on Christmas Eve and sell better on that day than any other day as nobody buys a Christmas cake after December 25. It’s said that you have to have a boyfriend or a husband before you reach the 25th, otherwise you will be a Christmas cake on the counter. Eating Kentucky Fried Chicken on Christmas is also a popular tradition.
It’s the happiest time of the year for workers just before a week-long new year holiday.
Written by: Takako Ota, Samurai Tours Kyoto Staff