How To Celebrate Christmas In Japan KFC, Couples, and of course, old Cake

    A long time ago we learned a few things about “How To Celebrate A Japanese Birthday” from my previous article. What’s next? Well, since I’ve been writing about “love” lately, I thought it would be fun to talk about a Japanese holiday that fits this theme. Valentine’s day? White day? Nah… we’ve already talked about those. If you want to read about that you can just read our articles Valentine’s Day, Japan and White Day: Japan’s Answer To Valentine’s Day. Nope, we’ll be talking about another special (romantic) Japanese holiday that’s different from most other places. I’m talking about Japanese Christmas.

    Christmas in Japan

    If you walked around Japan on Christmas Day, you wouldn’t notice too much that’s different or out of the ordinary. All the shops would be appropriately decorated and seasonal foods would be seen on advertisements, Christmas music would be playing, and just about everything would be urging you to get into the Christmas spirit. In Japan, however, Christmas is not religiously celebrated (I guess it’s becoming less and less religious around the world too). It’s also not a day that’s about Santa Claus either. Instead, it’s more about him and his wife and what they do together, if you catch my drift. Ho ho ho! ♪

    As many of you may already know, Christmas in Japan is not for families. It’s for couples. Granted, if you’re still a child you can still expect a gift or two, but once you’re grown up, unless you’re dating someone, don’t expect to be doing much Christmas celebrating. Japanese couples go on dates on Christmas because they think it’s romantic for them to go out on that day.

    Actually, Christmas Eve has become, perhaps, the most romantic night of the year in Japan. It’s a day for couples to celebrate each other in every possible way. All of the fancy restaurants will be holding special reservations from months in advance and many expensive items move off the shelves at this time. I’d also like to recommend not getting married on Christmas Eve because every honeymoon suite and every hotel in Japan will be booked. It is indeed a day for lovers.

    Why Is Christmas So Romantic?

    gingerbread cookies hanging from christmas tree
    Source: Paul Jerry

    So why in the world is Christmas so romantic? Of course there are Christmas lights and decorations all through the city streets, in shops, on buildings, and even in theme parks. They help to get couples into the romantic mood! Magazines and TV programs have a great deal of influence in convincing young people to go out on Christmas Eve as well. Just like everywhere else, there are groups that want you to spend your money on Christmas. In Japan, it just happens to be couples, so hotels, jewelry stores, and the like will push really hard to make sure you spend the big yen for your loved one.

    There are also lots of magazine guides that inform people where to go in order to have a successful and romantic Christmas date. And on TV, there are lots of programs introducing dating spots for this particular day. Young people think they need a boyfriend/girlfriend on Christmas Eve and if they don’t have a partner when that day comes they sometimes will feel ashamed or depressed. It’s large enough of a phenomenon that it is well known that many single people try their hardest to get a boyfriend or girlfriend in the weeks approaching Christmas Eve.

    So, a combination of social pressure, Christmas lights, and a lot of advertising dollars make this the most romantic Japanese day of the year. It’s not so dissimilar to Valentine’s Day in America or Canada, though I think Japan tends to go a little crazy on holidays like this.

    Christmas For a Japanese Person who is dating a non-Japanese

    godzilla made of christmas lights attacking tree
    Source: Harry Vale

    I think that “Christmas for couples” is acceptable as long as you are dating a Japanese person. For Western people, it’s usually a time to spend with family, though sometimes your partner is considered family in a way (but you don’t go off on a romantic date exclusive to you two). This difference between cultures can sometimes cause issues when a non-Japanese and Japanese person are dating. According to one woman who is dating an Italian man, for example, she becomes envious of her Japanese friends every Christmas. Let’s see why.

    • 欧米ではクリスマスや年末年始などのイベントは家族で過ごすことが当たり前だそうで、彼と一緒に過ごすことができません。日本では、クリスマスは恋人と過ごしている友人が多くてうらやましい!
    • My boyfriend is Italian. In Western cultures, it seems that people spend Christmas with their family, so I can’t be with my boyfriend. I’m jealous of my Japanese friends who can spend their Christmas with their boyfriends or girlfriends. (Source: 国際恋愛「外国人と交際していて○○に驚いた」トレンドニュース)

    Although another anonymous person complained that she has to stay in Japan because of her job while her American boyfriend goes back to his country for Christmas, another Japanese guy who is dating an Australian woman says that he enjoys going to visit her family during Christmas. It is a bit of a rush though, because Japanese people don’t get Christmas holidays, so he has to get to the airport on the 23rd in order to make it on time for Christmas.

    A similar thing happened to me once when my husband (boyfriend, at that time) and I were in Japan, though I wasn’t planning to spend Christmas alone with my boyfriend. I was actually planning to have a Christmas party in my apartment on the 25th and invited some friends. Of course I invited him, too, however at that time his brother was also in Japan and they were both planning to Skype their family from his brother’s house. I was also invited to join, but I had already made plans with my friends. I asked if it’s okay to take my friends there, too, but his brother wanted to keep it as a family thing. Taking friends there wasn’t acceptable! I ended up having the party without him and we had a great time. Of course, we bought KFC, which I should tell you is much different on Christmas than it is on normal days. They sell a really fancy chicken dinner (only for X’mas) and open a lot of wine bottles. Awww, it was such a good time! You may have thought my boyfriend and I could have had our romantic Christmas date on Christmas Eve, but we attended a mutual friend’s Christmas party, instead.

    These are first world Christmas problems indeed!

    The Lame Christmases That Turn Men Away

    man at cubicle desk with christmas sweater
    Source: Chris Pichado

    I previously wrote about the type of love confessions and birthday plans that turn women off, but I finally came across something that turn men away on Menjoy!. So, what kind of women’s behavior done on Christmas day has the power to make men think differently about them? Let’s read some responses in Japanese to find out. Pay attention, ladies!

    • ふだん行き慣れていない高級イタリアンや高級フレンチで明らかに挙動が不審な女性。レストランの席に通されるときから、歩き方がぎこちないとか、フィンガーボールの水を見て“おいしそうね”と言う女性。残念ですよね
    • I would turn away if my girlfriend got apparently nervous and behaved restlessly in a fancy Italian restaurant or a fancy French restaurant. For example, while we were guided to our table, if she walked like a robot, I would feel sad. It would also be pathetic if she were to say “looks tasty” while looking at the water in the finger bowl.

    Aww! It kind of sounds like me. I’m certainly not used to such restaurants. I actually don’t like this quote. It makes me upset. If you complain that your girlfriend feels out of place in such restaurants, it would be your fault for not taking her to them often enough. *Angry*

    • クリスマスイブの日限定で網タイツを履く女性の心理は、だいたい察しがつきますが、ちょっとやる気まんまんすぎてドン引きしますよね。女性の気持ちを考えると、男性としてその気持ちを受け止めてあげたいのは山々ですが……
    • I understand that women want to dress up and wear fishnet stockings on Christmas Eve because they never get a chance to wear them, but it turns me off because I can’t help feeling that she got all pumped up and too excited about the whole thing. I considered her feelings and I really wanted to accept what she did for me, but I couldn’t help but say no.
    • とってつけたような勝負下着を着た女にどんびきした。クリスマスデートは、男女ともに下着には気を遣っていると思います。あまりに気遣いが極端になると、見たこともない真っ赤な下着とか、総レースのすごくゴージャスな下着とか、そういうものを身につける女性もいると思います。見慣れないものを見ると、びっくりするのが男性です。
    • I was turned off by a woman who was uncharacteristically wearing sexy underwear. For Christmas dates, both women and men are very careful about their choice in underwear, but there are some women who care too much and choose very red or 100% lace lingerie. However, guys will be shocked if they looked at something they aren’t used to.
    • 「サンタさんの格好をした自分」をプレゼントされてどんびきした。
    • She tried to give herself to me while she was wearing a Santa costume. I was turned off.

    These reactions might only happen among Japanese men (again, not all Japanese men think this way), but they tend to turn down women if they come off as too sexy in such situations. For example, I’ve heard many guys talk like this before: If a woman walks out of the bathroom naked after a shower, it disgusts them because those women don’t have any shyness. Apparently, acting shy will make girls seem “cute” for guys, and being a “cute girl” is what many Japanese girls strive to be. Thus, wearing fishnet stockings or gorgeous lingerie or being a sexy Santa can come off as the opposite of shy and the poor women failed to be the “cute girl” that some men require.

    • 男に相談せずにホテルの部屋を予約する女にどんびきした。クリスマスイブとはいつのことかと言えば、それは月末であり、会社によっては25日の締め日前のすごく忙しい日です。そういうときに、横浜の●●ホテルに19時待ち合わせと言われても、すぐに行けないのです
    • I was turned off when my girlfriend made a reservation at a hotel without asking me a thing. Christmas Eve is the end of month and it could be such a busy day because the 25th of every month is a typical deadline date, depending on the company. At such a time, if I was told, “We are going to meet up at 7p.m. at the XXX hotel in Yokohama”, of course, I can’t be there on time.

    Considering that there aren’t any Christmas holidays in Japan and how Japanese men prioritize business over relationships, this is very likely to happen, especially when Christmas Eve falls on a weekday. Although she probably just wanted to make him happy with her surprise, she should have asked him about his schedule first.

    • レストランでケーキを食べて、家でもケーキを食べることにどんびきした。このパターンは正直、苦手な男性のほうが多いのではないでしょうか。1日に2つ以上のケーキを食べることに男性は慣れていません。
    • I was turned off of by my girlfriend when we had to eat cake in the restaurant and then another cake at home afterward. I’d say most guys are bad at this, right? Guys aren’t used to eating two or more pieces of cake a day.

    Personally, I’m a fan of cake (I should actually say I’m a fan of Japanese cake because Canadian cake is too sweet, except for homemade ones.) I may break up with him if he blamed me for finding two separate occasions to eat cake in one day. Instead of blaming her, he simply should have given her his portion, then they both would have been happy.

    holiday cake with candles
    Source: Ume-y

    A recent cake that my husband and I made was “bacon topped maple buttercream cupcakes” and, by the way, they were really good. I wouldn’t mind extra portions of that!

    • 値段も見ずにワインをどんどん飲む女にどんびきした。レストランでワインを頼む女性は要注意です。お店によっては、女性が見るメニューには金額が書いていないこともあります。男性が見るメニューには金額を書いてあります。女性がワインを頼むたびに男性はドキッとします
    • I was turned off of a woman who drank wine like a bear without looking at the price. I would say that we should be aware of women who order wine in restaurants, depending on the restaurant. Prices aren’t on the menu for women, but they are on the menu for men so that whenever a woman orders wine in a restaurant, the man might shudder.

    I didn’t know that such “sexist” restaurants existed. Although wine is said to be good for your heart, it wouldn’t be very good for men’s hearts to go to such restaurants and have to spend so much money on the wine. It can get expensive!

    • クリスマスツリーと一緒に鏡餅も買ってくる女にどんびきした。クリスマスデートをしたら、次に彼氏と会えるのが29日だから……といって、クリスマスツリーと一緒に鏡餅まで買ってくるのは、気が利いているようで“おいおい”ってなるでしょうね。気が早すぎるのです。
    • I was turned off when she bought ‘kagamimochi’ (a New Years decoration made of rice cakes) and a Christmas tree. She said she bought kagamimochi and the Christmas tree at the same time because she figured the next time we would meet would be after Christmas (the 29th) and too late to prepare for New Years. It was done as a favor, but to me, it was too early and ruined the Christmas mood.

    Buying those New Years goods beforehand may be okay, but bringing them on Christmas day doesn’t sound right. Maybe you should have just told him that you would buy them for him and take it to him on 29th, instead. The thought was there, at least. It’s hard for me to understand why this would make you like somebody less.

    • 25日の0時すぎにコンビニでクリスマスケーキの半額交渉をする女にどんびきした。
    • I was turned off by a woman who desperately asked a convenience store clerk for a 50% discount on a Christmas cake.

    Once Christmas is over the surplus of Christmas cakes typically get a huge price drop, but haggling in front of your boyfriend for so long may not appeal to some men. She may have just wanted to impress him, though. The ability to haggle well is quite the talent, actually!

    • キャンドルの灯りだけで過ごそうとする女にどんびきした。聖なる夜にキャンドルの灯り数本で過ごしたいという女性の気持ちはよくわかります。でも、マンションって気密性が高いので、キャンドルの煙を煙探知機が敏感に察知します。また、一酸化炭素中毒も心配です。どちらもクリアしても、壁紙に煤(すす)のにおいがついて、とれないのです。キャンドルはケーキにつけて、すぐに吹き消してほしいですよね。
    • I was turned off by a woman who tried to spend our whole night in candle light. I understand her feelings of wanting to spend a romantic night with a couple candles on such a night, but we were only in an apartment. Apartments are so small and compact that the fire alarm could easily go off and I’m also worried about carbon monoxide poisoning. Even though we got over those problems, it could have left a burning smell on my apartment walls. I would really love a woman who only uses candles on cakes and then blows them out right away.

    This person has a fear of candles, apparently. It’s sad that he couldn’t light candles in his apartment, but I do understand how small and cramped they could be. After all, Japanese apartments are pretty tiny sometimes! Fire is definitely a legitimate concern too, especially with how closely people live next to each other.

    Although I think that the guy responses are a little more shallow than past lady responses that we’ve gone through, I hope some of you are able to learn a little more about what to expect on Christmas, especially if you’re in a relationship in Japan. There are different ideals for a “good” Christmas, and if you don’t know them you could be making your significant other upset without even knowing it.

    So, along with the rest of the Tofugu team, we’d like to wish you a very happy Christmas, and I hope you don’t make any of the mistakes listed above. Good luck and Happy Holidays!