Celebrating Christmas in Japan

When is Christmas in Japan? Can you tell me the day and what the Japanese do to celebrate Christmas?

Something that was a shock for me and sometimes still is, is that Christmas in Japan starts from the end of October (with decorations being put up) and then finishes on the 25th December.

25th is the day that everyone brings down their trees and decorations and then put up their New Year decorations. The 25th of December is just like any other day with shops, banks and offices open as normal and my children will go to their swimming class in the evening that day as well.

Now the 24th is Japans Christmas and most, but not all, will celebrate by having a small family dinner of KFC and sponge cake. If you’re lucky you might get a present but these are only given to children and usually this tradition will stop once they turn 12 years old with some stopping younger.

But one of the most popular things to do on the 24th of December is to go out on a date with your boyfriend or girlfriend and in turn exchange gifts, and if your lucky you might end the night at a love hotel.

Throughout December families and couples will do Christmassy things such as viewing Xmas lights on popular street corners or at attractions. Restaurants and shopping centers will decorate their stores and sell everything with a Xmas label. The commercialization of Christmas is a live here as in any other country in the world and we get the big Coke-Cola lorry shown on TV as well.

What do I do for Christmas then?

First my Christmas is celebrated on the 25th and we all exchange presents in the evening when everyone gets home from work. I will spend the 24th and 25th cooking up a traditional English Christmas dinner with turkey, stuffing, roast potatoes with lots of gravy (thanks to my mother for sending over 90% of the ingredients ) and we will finish off with a Japanese Christmas cake. This small tradition is kept alive due to my in-laws liking my cooking and watching their grandchildren opening their presents. A tradition that my wife has said that she and her sisters never did when they were younger.

For my Children I put up our Christmas tree around the last week of November because I don’t like putting up two trees and decorations around the same time so I do my house a week before I do my schools.

I buy advent calendars for my boys and I try my best to get them to watch a Christmassy movie at least once every few days to keep them in the mood but more for my own enjoyment as I act more of a child around this time of year.

Now every year my wife says why don’t we buy sushi instead of cooking or let’s skip the presents and not put up the decorations. My reply to this is that Christmas is special to me and I want our children to learn, enjoy and then continue this small tradition when they have their own families. The best way I could explain how important Christmas is to English people was show her last year’s Sainsbury’s OFFICIAL Christmas 2014 Ad with the UK and Germany stopping their war to celebrate Christmas. Unfortunately this didn’t do much good as she said if they could stop fighting for Christmas then they shouldn’t have gone to war in the first place, missing the point I was trying to explain.

Perhaps at the end of the year I will say lets skip the toshidama, New Years gift, for her family and our children which sees us out of pocket more than Christmas does.

Anyway I hope you have a great December and thank you for reading.


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