Post Reply Christmas in Japan
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Posted 12/20/10 , edited 12/21/10
Encouraged by the commercial sector, the secular celebration of Christmas is popular in Japan, though Christmas is not a national holiday. Gifts are exchanged [8] and children's presents are left next to their pillow at night. Christmas parties are held on and around Christmas Day; a unique feature of these celebrations is the Japanese type of Christmas cake, often a white whipped cream cake with strawberries. Christmas lights decorate buildings and trees during Christmastime, and Christmas trees adorn living areas.[8] Christmas Eve has become a holiday for couples to spend time together[8] and exchange gifts.
Christmas lights in Tokyo, Japan

The first recorded Christmas in Japan was celebrated with a Mass held by Jesuit missionaries in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 1552. Some believe that unrecorded celebrations were held before this date, starting in 1549 when Saint Francis Xavier arrived in Japan to begin missionary work. Starting with the expulsion of missionaries in 1587, Christianity was banned throughout Japan beginning in 1612, a few years into the Edo Period, and the public practice of Christmas subsequently ceased. However, a small enclave of Japanese Christians, known as Kakure Kirishitan ("hidden Christians"), continued to practice underground over the next 250 years.

Christianity in Japan along with Christmas practices reemerged at the beginning of the Meiji period. Influenced by American customs, Christmas parties were held and presents were exchanged. The practice slowly spread in major cities, but its proximity to the New Year's celebrations makes it a smaller focus of attention. During World War II, all celebrations and customs, especially those from America, were suppressed. From the 1960s, with the aid of a rapidly expanding economy, and influenced by American TV dramas, Christmas became popular, but mostly not as a religious occasion. For many Japanese, celebrating Christmas is similar to participating in a matsuri, where participants often do not consider which kami is being celebrated, but believe that the celebration is a tribute nevertheless. From the 1970s onwards, many songs and TV drama series presented Christmas from a lover's point of view, for example 'Last Christmas' by Exile.

The birthday of the current emperor, Akihito, on December 23 is a national holiday. Shortly thereafter businesses close for the New Year's holidays, usually reopening on the first weekday after January 3.



Christmas Lights in Tokyo, Japan



It seems like Christmas to the Japanese is something like Valentine's to us. I've read something about it before.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_worldwide#Japan
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Posted 12/20/10
Impressive...too bad it doesn't snow in Greece T^T
Posted 12/21/10
Very informative and interesting. And yeah, I've gotten the notion of it having a Valentine's feel to it as well.
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