Christmas in Japan
Christmas is not widely celebrated in Japan as not many people there are Christians. However, several customs have come to Japan from the USA such as sending and receiving Christmas Cards and Presents.
In Japan, Christmas in known as more of a time to spread happiness rather than a religious celebration. Christmas eve is often celebrated more than Christmas Day. Christmas eve is thought of as a romantic day, in which couples spend together and exchange presents. In many ways it resembles Valentine's Day celebrations in the UK and the USA. Young couples like to go for walks to look at the Christmas lights and have a romantic meal in a restaurant - booking a table on Christmas Eve can be very difficult as it's so popular!
Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, so schools and businesses are normally open on December 25th.
In Japanese Happy/Merry Christmas is 'Meri Kurisumasu.'
Parties are often held for children, with games and dancing. Japanese Christmas Cake is a sponge cake decorated with trees, flowers and a figure of Santa Claus.
In Japan Santa is known as santa-san (Mr Santa). Another Japanese gift bringer is Hoteiosho, a Japanese god of good fortune from Buddhism and not really related to Christmas.
Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas day. It is the busiest time of year for restaurants such as KFC and people can place orders at their local fast food restaurant in advance! The traditional Japanese christmas food is christmas cake, but it's not a rich fruit cake, but is usually a sponge cake decorated with strawberries and whipped cream.
The Japanese New Year (called 'o shogatsu') is more like a traditional Western Christmas. New year is the period where families get together, have a special meal, pray and send greetings cards. New year is celebrated over five days from December 31st to January 4th and is a very busy time.