Japanese Christmas explained

Why do the Japanese have cream and strawberry sponge cakes at Xmas?

It makes more sense to ask why the British etc. have heavy cakes made with dried fruit, the answer being that it was made with the only fruit that was traditionally still available at that time of year and made in a way that meant it could keep for several weeks. In Japan, in contrast, the boom in Xmas cakes was just as refridgeration and the use of greenhouses made fresh cream and strawberries a possibility. In fact, the Japanese never eat heavy fruit cakes of the size and shape of a British Xmas cake, and this is especially true of the women who usually buy the Xmas cakes and they are marketed to, who, it seems, think something light but indulgent is the lady-like thing to buy. Also, strawberries are a winter fruit in Japan, with their cheapest period being not far from Xmas.

Why do the Japanese eat chicken (including KFC) for Christmas?

Again, the Japanese do not generally have the appetites or the ovens to cook and eat a turkey, so KFC was probably pushing on an open door when they started advertising the possibility of having an American Xmas with Kentucky chicken in the 1970’s. Like lamb, turkey is also an acquired taste.

Why is Xmas considered a romantic time for couples in Japan?

Again, marketing has a lot to do with it. As New Year is a family time in Japan, spending Xmas with your lover fills a gap in the seasonal calendar and makes a nice mirror image of a British Xmas (with the family) and New Year (with your lover and/ or friends). Valentine’s Day is actually less than romantic given the need to deliver giri choco. The Xmas lights everywhere help the romantic atmosphere quite a lot too.

Why do the Xmas decorations come down on the 25th of December in Japan?

To get the traditional Japanese New Year decorations up well before December 31st.

Why are there Xmas-themed love hotels?

More interesting Japanese Christmas stuff available on the Japan Times, and a “debate” about Japanese Xmas on Japan Today

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