Here’s What Christmas Dinner Looks Like In Japan
Christmas is a special time of the year where families get together, exchange gifts, and share a festive meal. In many Western countries, turkey and ham are the traditional centrepieces of a Christmas feast. However, in Japan, where Christmas is not a national holiday and only a small percentage of the population practices Christianity, the holiday has a unique twist. Let’s take a closer look at what Christmas dinner looks like in Japan.
The Rising Popularity of Christmas in Japan
While Christmas in Japan is not celebrated in traditional religious ways, it has gained immense popularity as a romantic holiday. This unique association with love and romance can be attributed to a successful marketing campaign by a popular Japanese fried chicken chain in the 1970s. It introduced the idea of celebrating Christmas by sharing a bucket of fried chicken with a special someone. Today, December 25th is considered a special day for couples to exchange gifts and enjoy a meal together.
The Allure of Fried Chicken
One of the most significant differences between Christmas dinner in Japan and other countries is the prominence of fried chicken. Thanks to the aforementioned marketing campaign, it has become a beloved Christmas tradition in Japan to order a special Christmas meal from fast food chains like KFC. These meals often include not only their signature fried chicken but also sides such as salad and cake. The queues outside KFC outlets on Christmas Day are famously long, with people often placing orders weeks in advance.
Cake: The Sweet Finale
Another essential element of a Japanese Christmas dinner is cake. While Western countries often have a variety of desserts during the holiday season, in Japan, Christmas cake holds a special place. These cakes are typically sponge cakes adorned with whipped cream and strawberries, symbolizing the festive colors of Christmas. Much like the fried chicken, Christmas cakes are in high demand, and many Japanese families will order them in advance from bakeries or speciality cake shops.
Traditional Japanese Dishes with a Festive Twist
Despite the influence of Western traditions, some Japanese families prefer to have a more traditional Japanese feast for their Christmas dinner. However, the dishes served are often given a festive touch to align with the holiday spirit.
Yule Logs and Sushi Rolls
One popular option is a fusion of Western and Japanese cuisines, combining traditional Christmas Yule logs with Japanese-style sushi rolls. Yule logs, typically made of sponge cake rolled with cream, are transformed into sushi rolls filled with various seafood, pickled vegetables, and even tempura. It is a creative and delicious way to bridge the gap between traditional Western food and Japanese flavors.
Hot Pot for a Cozy Meal
Another popular choice is having a hot pot, known as nabe, as the centerpiece of Christmas dinner. Nabe is a communal winter dish where a pot of simmering broth is placed in the center of the table, and everyone adds their preferred ingredients, such as meat, tofu, noodles, and vegetables, to cook together. This warm and comforting meal brings people closer together and creates a cozy atmosphere for the festive celebrations.
Christmas dinner in Japan may not include the classic roasted turkey or glazed ham that Westerners are familiar with, but it is still a special and meaningful meal for many Japanese families. Whether it’s enjoying a bucket of fried chicken, indulging in a Christmas cake, or savoring traditional dishes with a festive twist, the focus is always on love, companionship, and creating lasting memories. So, if you find yourself in Japan during the holiday season, embrace the unique culinary traditions and enjoy a delightful Christmas dinner Japanese-style.