It’s December again in Japan, and that means that Christmas trees are sprouting up outside store fronts while festive advertisements of cakes adorn the trains and convenience stores across the land. The usual mercilessly repetitive jingles that fill department stores and supermarkets are replaced with mercilessly repetitive carols for this one special month.
However, not everyone can share in the festive joy of a Japanese Christmas filled with hallowed traditions such as fried chicken and bowling. Christmas in Japan is also a day for lovers, and as of 2011 it was estimated that over 60% of young men and women would be single for the holidays and that number certainly hasn’t appeared to have changed recently.
All this lonesomeness and misery brought about annually begs the question: “Who the hell made Christmas a romantic holiday in Japan anyway?!”
So, it’s December (already!) and I just read this really interesting article about Christmas in Japan, and how it came to be considered a day for lovers.
I was talking to a woman at my Japanese conversation night class today, and she explained that in Japan, the popular thing to do on Christmas is to go on a nice date with someone special, and on Christmas eve every year, the restaurants are filled with couples.
Alternatively, people might choose to hang out with their friends, go shopping, or go to see one of the many lights displays set up across the country.
This is very different from the Western Christmas, which is usuallyan occasion to spend time with family (in Japan, New Year’s or oshogatsu is the family holiday, rather than Christmas).
Despite Japan being a largely secular country, Christmas is still popular, although it might not be celebrated in the same way that it is in Western countries. Which makes sense, given that for many people, Christmas doesn’t have much to do with Christianity anymore and is instead seen as an opportunity to have some festive fun.
I’ll be sure to let everyone know what I get up to during the holiday season. Coming from New Zealand, this will be my first winter Christmas in a long time. Maybe I’ll even get some snow - we’ll have to see.