Christmas has caught on in Japan and South Korea as well, but the tradition differs a little from what I remember in my youth:1
Somehow, Christmas in Japan and Korea is a young person’s holiday mostly. In fact, it’s often associated with romance and dating, similar to Valentine’s Day here, which surprised me a lot at first, but also family traditions have started as well. For example, Kentucky Fried Chicken is very popular on Christmas Day in Japan, which is how we got the plate above. KFC in Japan is really good, unlike in the US, and has a more gourmet taste. Fellow blogger, Cocomino, has a great write-up about his family in Japan preparing for Christmas. Very cute.
But also Christmas cakes are popular too. In both Japan and Korea, it’s popular to buy Christmas Cakes and enjoy them with the family, which may possibly originate from British tradition but I am not sure. Anyhow, speaking from experience, Japan has awesome pastries, and as you can see, they can make some very nice, gourmet Christmas Cakes too.
On TV, you see lots of Japanese TV shows do Christmas “specials” (just more of the same, but with Christmas decorations) as well. You can see a lot of Christmas trees on TV, and celebrities with “Santa” hats. 🙂
Of course, Christians in Japan and Korea also attend Christmas services as well. I have a friend who is Korean and I asked her about it. Since her family in Korea is Catholic, she said they would attend Christmas mass of course while she was growing up. I’m sure Christians in Japan do too, though the population of Christians is much smaller in Japan than in Korea.
But by and large, Christmas is a hip, fun holiday for young people. This seemed surprising to me at first, but my Korean friend explained it this way: Korea already has solemn family holidays (Korean New Year or seollal 설날 and Chuseok) so it doesn’t necessarily need more of them. Likewise, Japan has New Year’s and Obon. The calendar is already crowded, thanks! 😉
Plus I am also reminded that Santa Claus is a Bodhisattva anyway. ;p
Merry Christmas, everyone!
P.S. And then there’s Christmas in North Korea too. :p
P.P.S. A nice Christmas song by the KPop groups Orange Caramel and Nu’est.
1 Linus is quoting from Luke 2:8-14 (King James Version) in the Bible, for reference.