Christmas Celebrations In Japan
The festival is not as important as New Year’s Eve, which is also a national holiday.
Unlike in the west, Christmas day is more of a day when couples date or hold informal parties. The major parties though are almost always held on New Year's Eve, when the entire family gets together. Christmas is pitched as more of a romantic day and the day is spend with lovers as they stroll in gardens or under the Christmas lights that have been put up by the companies and the government to give impetus to this romantic feel. Sometime people may exchange gifts, usually in the manner of cash and generally given to kids. The Japanese Christmas cake is unique to Japan, a white-frosting cake, often with strawberries. It is a cake to celebrate the birthday of Baby Jesus. Santa Kurohsu is the Japanese version of Santa Claus, it is said that he has eyes at the back of his head to observe who has been naughty and who has been nice. There is also a priest Hoteiosho, who carries a huge sack of gifts.
History Of Christmas in Japan
The First Christmas in Japan was believed to have been celebrated during the late Edo period by Dutch merchants who lived in Nagasaki. Those locals who worked with the merchants joined the celebration. But Christmas got a real thrust during the Meiji period when spreading of Christianity was authorized by the local officials.
The upper class of Japanese society which had been influenced by American customs, occasionally held Christmas parties where they even exchanged gifts. However, this trend did not pick up because people felt they would rather celebrate New Year's Eve instead of Christmas.
During World War II, all celebrations and customs, especially those from America, were avoided and suppressed for obvious reason. From the 1960s, with the aid of a rapidly expanding economy, and influenced by American television, Christmas became popular, but not as a religious occasion.
Japanese have a custom of Matsuri where they do not consider which kami is being celebrated but they celebrate it nevertheless as a tribute. Christmas celebrations in Japan are sort of like that. Over the last two decades, even television, songs and other popular media in Japan presented Christmas as the ideal holiday for lovers. The current emperor of Japan, Akihito celebrates his birthday on December 23 rd , which is a national holiday. Christmas is not a national holiday but businesses close on the 28 th only to reopen on January 3 rd after the New Year celebrations.