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Merry Japanese Christmas: 7 major differences from the Western Christmas

1. Young people in Japan don’t say “Meri kurisumasu” (メリクリスマス), which is Japanese for “Merry Christmas”, any longer. They say “merikuri” (メリクリ) instead. It is natural that in the land of all things cute and small all loan words become shorter.Japanese Christmas2. Another new trendy word is “kuribocchi” (くりぼっち) – a portmanteau word that combined “Christmas” and “lonely” (ひとりぼっち). People who spend Christmas alone call themselves “lonely on Christmas”, but don’t start feeling pity for them. Usually it is just another way for young people to say that they don’t have a girlfriend/boyfriend to spend a Christmas Eve with. On the contrary, I see someone who is lonely at Christmas more like an old person who has no family or friends to eat a bountiful Christmas meal with.Japanese Christmas3. A typical Christmas Eve (Christmas Day is not celebrated because Xmas is not a national holiday) has no home-cooked dinner or chocolate involved. And this is the only difference between Christmas and Valentine’s Day. The couples typically have a date at a fashionable restaurant, often followed by a romantic night at a hotel. Somewhere in between there is exchanging rather expensive gifts, and an obligatory night stroll while gazing at Christmas illuminations. These days people start celebrating from Emperor’s Birthday on December 23.Japanese ChristmasForeigners who make a mistake of not sticking to these scenario, beware of the angry Japanese girlfriend!

4. Most of us are already aware that the Japanese eat chicken instead of turkey, and do so on a Christmas Eve. Families lucky enough to have an oven bake a chicken, and the others order a take-out at Kentucky Fried Chicken or at convenience stores are made well ahead of time, as well as Christmas Cake reservations. Japanese Christmas

5. A traditional Japanese Christmas Cake is Strawberry Sponge Cake, decorated with a figure of サンタさん (Santa-san, or Mr Santa – that’s how politely Santa Claus is called here) or a chocolate plate saying “Merry Christmas”. Recently many other cakes has entered the market as an alternative to Sponge Cake.Japanese Christmas

6. Christmas trees will magically disappear on December 25th, giving way to the traditional Japanese New Year decorations.

7. The Japanese Christmas has absolutely no religious context. My Japanese husband actually scolded me for buying too religious (in his opinion) Christmas cards to send to our friends.Japanese Christmas

In Japan, Christmas carol singing or nativity scenes can be found only at churches. No miracles, forgiveness, or true Christmas spirit are expected, which can be either disappointing or relaxing. However, generosity is more than encouraged.

Article by Olga Kaneda

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