Japanese Christmas

As the Christmas Day is not the national holiday in Japan, and also that Christians form about only two per cent of the population of Japan, the Christmas celebrations in Japan are limited to only a few homes and people of the society, and not to the general public. But, most of the traditions and customs for celebrating Christmas are the same as performed in the Western countries.

And, it is for sure that Christians of Japan celebrate this festival with great religious fervors and enthusiasm, like the people of the Western countries; and number of non-Christian people being gradually more and more interested in celebrating Christmas as a secular festival, is going on increasing every year. The commercial sector of Japan has been catering to the requirements of Japanese Christmas, and also to the growth of its prominence and popularity.

The majority of Japanese, comprising people of religions Buddhism and Shinto, are quite tolerant and secular to people with other religious faiths, and Christianity to no exception to this. Christmas was first introduced to Japan by the Europeans in the 16th century. The main Japanese Christmas celebrations take place on the Christmas Eve. It is the occasion when the typically prominent Christmas cake is cut and distributed among the family members and friends, present in the Christmas Eve gathering, usually at home. Japanese Christmas cakes are commonly made of white whipped cream and strawberries. In Japanese Christmas, the Christmas Eve is one of the most favorite occasions for the couples for exchanging Christmas gifts, and going out for spending a romantic and intimate time together.

Homes and surrounding exteriors are decorated and illuminated on or before the Christmas Eve, in Japan also. Retail stores, shopping malls, and other commercial buildings are adorned with glittering light decorations, much before the Christmas Eve. Artificial Christmas trees, Santa Claus, Light decorations, Christmas greeting cards, Japanese Christmas cakes, Christmas gifts, etc., are readily provided to the Japanese Christians by the commercial sector.

Presenting Christmas gifts to people within and beyond family and home, is also common in the Japanese Christmas, as are the Christmas tree decorations and light decoration of homes, surrounding trees and areas. Japanese Christians usually follow a custom of giving an Oseibo (a gift marking ending of the year), in addition to the exchange of their Christmas gifts.