Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas in Asia: How the Japanese Celebrate the Christmas Season

Although the most important holiday of the season in Japan is New Year's Day, Christmas is still something on the people's minds this time of year. In Japan, certain Christmas symbols, traditions, and practices are carried over from Western Christmas traditions and given an "Asian flare", while others are unique to their culture and traditions.

Much like in the United States, the ideas of having holiday spirit and the gift of giving is a very strong concept during the Christmas season for the Japanese. Participating in worship and giving to the sick and poor is the main focus of Japanese Christians around this time of year. 

Christmas day also shares many similarities to what your family's typical Christmas may be. Family members gather together over a turkey dinner to exchange cards and gifts. A Christmas tree can still be found in the house, decorated with an abundance of lights and ornaments. A special corner of each house is reserved for a Nativity scene- even mistletoe and evergreens are a symbol that Japanese Christians hold dear for this holiday. Hoteiosho, a Buddhist monk who is the Japanese equivalent of Santa Claus, showers the well behaved children with presents on Christmas morning. 

Even though many Western customs carry over to this holiday, there are still many Asian traditions that are woven into the season. The Japanese incorporate their rich tradition through their unique Christmas cakes, fried chicken, and Daiku. Their traditional Christmas cake is made from sponge cake decorated with miniature figures of trees, flowers, and Hoeiosho or Santa Claus. In addition to turkey, fried chicken has become a traditional meal for the holiday meal. The music favorite of the season, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven, Daiku, can be heard playing in many houses  and at many holiday get togethers. 

To learn more about the cultural and diversity taught at Fujimini Island, please click here.

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