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Noticia
 el 22 Dec 2008 por Ayumi Nakai

Christmas in Japan

Japanese Christmas is quite of a commercial hype. Christmas Eve is synonym for "romantic night" amongst young couples, but the truth is that not as many people celebrate that time together.

Christmas decorations in Tokyo, December 2008
Christmas decorations in Tokyo, December 2008
Christmas decorations in Tokyo, December 2008 Couples and lovers look for romantic places to spend Christmas Eve The Christmas cake is a typical seasonal tradition It looks like a birthday cake Green trees... ...red trees... ...and purple trees in Tokyo centre An amazing lighting installation in Tokyo
How is Christmas in Japan?
By Christmas time, Japanese cities and towns light up and shine full of colourful lights (even more than usual) and shops and stores make a fortune in this shopping paradise. Local shops and big stores put their Christmas full dresses on, adopting the typical western-style seasonal look; Christmas trees, garlands, gifts, etc... Christmas in Japan is quite of a commercial hype really.

Who Japanese people spend Christmas with?
Christmas in Japan is focused on children, and mainly on young couples. Christmas Eve has always been synonym to "romantic night" and has nothing to do with a religious event like it does in western countries.

However, a survey proves that contrary to the general idea, not so many young people celebrate it with their couple. This year, 25% of Japanese will spend Christmas Eve together with their couple, 23% will spend it at home alone (many young people are living on their own) because they do not have a couple, or because they have to work... Work? Yes, Christmas day is not a holiday in Japan! Just about 31% would be celebrating with their families.

The survey also reveals that half of the Japanese do not attach much importance to Christmas. It is more a thing of the media, the shops and stores which take interestedly care to promote and foster some kind of Christmas spirit. Moreover, as this year’s Christmas Eve is on Wednesday, it will be more difficult to meet somebody and celebrate.

How Japanese people celebrate Christmas?
Amongst those who do celebrate Christmas, the most typical tradition is –besides eating chicken or turkey– having the Christmas Cake. According to a Recruit survey, nearly 44.3% of Japanese people will eat this cake. And it’s the girls who enjoy most this sweet dessert, many declaring they will eat it on their own, alone in their homes, just to enjoy some kind of Christmas atmosphere.

As per couples and lovers, there are some who start one month in advance booking the most romantic restaurants and hotels to celebrate Christmas Eve. Hotels take advantage of this universal celebration increasing fees and making hotel rooms prices five times more expensive.

Gifts are very present and important in Christmas: from parents to children, between friends and amongst couples. However, it is not usual to exchange presents amongst family members, like they do in Western countries. Accessories like necklaces and rings are some of the most desired presents amongst young girls; and watches, scarves or wallets for the boys.

For those who are single and not engaged, Christmas Eve could be quite of a lonely night. And to top it all off, in the Internet it is usual to find romantic ads and slogans like "Dream places to visit with your loving one" or even worst, banners reminding you how lonely you are: "Are you spending Christmas Eve alone?" (those usually coming from "looking for your better half" businesses.)

It is no surprise that they feel pressured, that’s the reason why they created an online community called "Hi-mote NSN" (Not being very successful in their relationships with women/men), where singles encourage each other not to feel sad and they share their frustrating experiences with the opposite sex. This community follows a rule: If you find a couple, you ought to leave the community. It is very popular in Christmas and not long ago they got together to celebrate that there are over 3000 members. The slogan was something like: Let’s go out and look for your better half!

By the way, why do Japanese celebrate Christmas if they are not Christians?

Christmas was celebrated in Japan for the first time back in 1552, when a Jesuit religious man together with a Spanish missionary invited Japanese people to their mass in a Japanese territory.

At the beginning of the Sho-wa era (1926-1989), restaurants, bars and cafes in Tokyo started to offer special menus and the waitress served customers wearing a Father Christmas costume. During the 30’s, couples and lovers alike managed to spend the night together; and next there it came a menu called ¨for the poor boys¨ to encourage and cheer up single boys looking for their better half.

Each country has a different way of celebrating this festive season. I wish everybody a great Christmas and, above all, those single Japanese people! Merry Christmas to all of you!

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