Jane Eyre, the main character in Jane Eyre Gets Real, has been stressed out for over two centuries. Knowing that Xmas, especially in the time of #Covid, may be especially hard for people this year, she recommends looking outside of yourself to gain perspective. For instance, don’t think about holidays past, think about the wacky yet endearing way Xmas is celebrated in Japan!
Only one percent of Japanese are Christians, so December 25th is very much a secular event. While many citizens buy really tiny trees–think #CharlieBrownChristmas–to decorate their tiny homes, department stores go all out with giant trees, flashing lights and anime-inspired elves.
Hungry for sweets? Seasonal cake, a light sponge decorated with whipped cream and strawberries, is popular; don’t forget the traditional Western Santa Claus on top! BTW: The equivalent of Santa in Old Japan was Hoeiosho, a Buddhist monk who was known to bring gifts to children. He has largely been supplanted by Santa-san (Mr. Santa).
Speaking of gifts, it’s mainly kids who receive gifts for Japanese Xmas. Also couples (the holiday sort of doubles as Valentine’s Day with partners going out together for a romantic meal and gift exchange). If you really do want to celebrate the Nippon way you might consider giving your significant other a wacky Japanese invention, such as a chopstick fan, umbrella tie or square watermelon.
Single or part of a family? You will most likely be dining on KFC. Due to Kentucky Fried Chicken’s vigorous marketing campaigns in Japan during the 1970’s (the country has over 4,000 statues of Colonel Sanders), take-out fried chicken became associated with Western Xmas–some people place their orders over 2 months in advance! But if you don’t like fast food take heart; turkey is becoming an acceptable alternative.
So if you’re feeling blue anytime this month click below and hum along: