Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Worldly Wednesday: Christmas in Japan

My girls are being assigned a research project to choose one country and find out how they celebrate Christmas. They will compare and contrast the customs with the countries others have chosen as well as with US customs. I sent them to Santa's Net to get them started.

Here is my sample country of Japan:

A very small percentage of Japanese are Christians, yet in Japan it is common to find many homes and stores decorated at this time with evergreens and many people exchange gifts. It is believed that a Buddhist monk, named Hotei-Osho, will bring presents to the homes of all the kids. It is also believed that he has eyes in the back of his head. Kids who do not like the idea of Hotei-Osho, often believe in Santa who travels with his red-nosed reindeer. I also learned that in Japan, Christmas Eve is a time to be spent with a significant other and is often celebrated in ways similar to the US Valentine's Day. As for Christmas dinner, KFC has done a remarkable job of convincing the Japanese that fried chicken is what should be served and they are often very busy on Christmas Eve with people picking up their Christmas Chicken Dinners (often ordered ahead of time). Roast Teriyaki Chicken is a common alternative. Either way, the dinner is served with Christmas Cake, a round sponge cake topped with whipped cream fruit. To say "Merry Christmas" in Japan you would say, "Shinnen omedeto. Kurisumasu Omedeto".

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