Christmas Japan - photo of green leafed plants
Image by Annie Spratt on

Do Japanese people celebrate Christmas?

Christmas is a widely celebrated holiday around the world, but what about in Japan? Do Japanese people celebrate Christmas? The answer might surprise you.

In Japan, Christmas is not a national holiday like it is in many Western countries. However, that doesn’t mean that the holiday goes unnoticed. In fact, Christmas has become increasingly popular in Japan over the years, although the way it is celebrated may be quite different from what you might expect.

One of the first things you might notice is that Christmas in Japan is not a religious holiday. Only a small percentage of the population in Japan identifies as Christian, so for most Japanese people, Christmas is more of a secular celebration than a religious one. This means that the focus is less on attending church services and more on enjoying the festive atmosphere and spending time with loved ones.

One of the most iconic images of Christmas in Japan is the beautiful illuminations that light up cities across the country. These dazzling displays of lights can be found everywhere from shopping centers and train stations to parks and gardens. Many couples and families take this opportunity to go on romantic walks or outings to admire the colorful lights.

Another unique aspect of Christmas in Japan is the tradition of eating KFC for Christmas dinner. Yes, you read that right. Kentucky Fried Chicken has become synonymous with Christmas in Japan. It all started in the 1970s when a marketing campaign by KFC successfully convinced the Japanese that fried chicken was a traditional American Christmas meal. Today, people line up for hours to get their hands on a special Christmas bucket of fried chicken from KFC.

Gift-giving is also an important part of Christmas in Japan. However, instead of exchanging gifts with friends and family, it is more common for couples to exchange presents. This is similar to Valentine’s Day, which is also a popular holiday for gift-giving in Japan. Many stores and shopping centers offer special Christmas promotions and sales to attract shoppers looking for the perfect gift.

Christmas Eve is considered the main day of celebration in Japan, rather than Christmas Day itself. It is often seen as a romantic holiday, similar to Valentine’s Day in the West. Couples go out for romantic dinners, exchange gifts, and spend time together. It is also common for young people to have Christmas parties or gatherings with friends on Christmas Eve.

While Christmas in Japan may not have the same religious meaning as it does in other countries, it is still a time for people to come together and celebrate. The festive atmosphere, beautiful illuminations, and unique traditions make Christmas in Japan a special and memorable experience.

So, do Japanese people celebrate Christmas? The answer is yes, but in their own unique way. Whether it’s enjoying the beautiful illuminations, indulging in KFC for dinner, or exchanging gifts with loved ones, Christmas in Japan is a time for joy, togetherness, and creating lasting memories.

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