Even though it has no age-old traditions in Japan, celebrating Christmas the Japanese way is a very big happening here. It is a festive season leading up to the traditional New Year’s celebrations, and from what I have gathered so far, the important parts of Christmas in Japan are decorations, gifts for loved ones, chicken and cake. When I was studying Japanese in Sweden, my teacher told us that Christmas means going to KFC, the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain, and my wife always wants to buy roast chicken for Christmas dinner (although the Christmas cake, often with strawberries, is even more important to her). So the Christmas food here in Japan is quite different from the Swedish traditional smorgasbord.
As a side note, smorgasbord or buffet is called viking here in Japan, although it is pronounced baikingu, since there is a lack of v-sounds here (so video becomes bideo). At hotels there is often baikingu for breakfast and I find it quite an amusing image, imagining a lot of vikings fighting over the food with the big cutlery at the buffet table.
When it comes to Christmas decorations, Japan is ever as skilled at it as we are in Sweden (although my son sometimes gets upset when he sees a Christmas tree in a store that lacks lights or a star at the top). At kindergarten, kids are making Christmas decorations, at the children’s groups at the community hall, we are having Christmas parties with Santas and reindeers and Christmas presents. Stores are doing Christmas campaigns with glittery stars and snowflakes and Santas.
I still find it quite strange that the trees are getting there beautiful autumn colors when the Christmas season approaches, and I miss the snow, but as for finding the Christmas feeling we are doing okay here in Japan, with our IKEA-starshaped-paper-light shining in the window. My son loves the Christmas lights he can see everywhere and when we went to the mall the other day he excitedly told me in Swedish, look dad, the light is dripping, when he saw led-lights hanging from the ceiling, and the light appearing to fall down as one light bulb after the other was turned on and off. You are quite the poet, I thought to myself. Please keep your sense of wonder my baby.
And to you my readers. Happy holidays. See you again next year.
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