Holiday Traditions around the World: Christmas in JAPAN
Japan is predominately Shinto. Shinto is an ethnic religion based in ritual practices to connect modern Japan with its ancient past. It is said to have started in the sixth century, but there is no known scripture or founder so Christmas does not play much of a part in Japan. The small amount of Christians in Japan celebrate Christmas with an ethnic twist. For example, the nativity participants are dressed in traditional Japanese costume. The Christmas tree is decorated with origami ornaments. The Santa figure is an old man, Hoteiosho who carries a pack and is said to have eyes in the back of his head prompting the children to behave at all times! Hoteiosho is considered a god or priest in Japanese culture.
The traditional New Year celebration of O-Shogatsu is the most important Japanese holiday of the year. It is celebrated from January 1st – January 3rd. Years are viewed completely separately so worries must be left behind in an old year and the new year must start fresh. Homes are cleaned on New Year’s Eve to make way for a renewed start on January 1st. Bonenkai parties (forget the year gatherings) are thrown throughout the country for offices, friends and families to leave their troubles behind and conclude any unfinished business. Tokishoshi soba is known as the year crossing noodle and is served on New Year’s Eve to promote longevity. Read more