Christmas Eve, a Day For Lovers in Japan

If you can't see the video, go here: http://youtu.be/JVFQ5ckYrSY

It's still Christmas! And there is still plenty to talk about this holiday season in Japan. Christmas Eve, for example, could hardly be any more different.

Most people hate Christmas Eve right? Either you are an adult and its the day when you have to rush around doing last minute jobs like shopping for that awkward uncle, cooking cakes, and meeting long lost relatives at the train station or you are a child and you desperately want time to go faster so Santa can hurry up and bring you everything your little heart desires.

Well, in Japan, Christmas Eve is the big holiday. On Christmas Day itself they do nothing. Little kids get presents from Santa, but that's it. No big deal is made really, and it's honestly quite depressing to go out on Christmas Day to find that everything is open as normal and the streets are busy with people. I really miss the quiet, private mystery of the world on Christmas Day, knowing that everyone else is inside their homes, spending time with family.

So what happens on Christmas Eve to make it so different? It's a day for lovers. In fact. It's a better Valentine's Day than Valentine's Day, mainly because that holiday is downgraded to a cringeworthy tribute to how shy the Japanese male is, but more on that in February. On Christmas Eve, couples spend the day together. They might have a lunch, and go on a date during the day, maybe play games or take photos together if they are teenagers, or mature couples will book a meal in a restaurant and be more romantic. They exchange gifts and you might even see some hand holding. That's quite a big deal here.

The only requisite is that couples should eat chicken on this day. I don't know why. Perhaps it comes from the western tradition of eating turkey and it got confused in translation a little, but that's how it is. So forget going to KFC on that day. The queues are massive!

The thing is if you go outside on December 24th in Japan you will see couples everywhere. Everywhere! More than tribbles! More than hairs on a piece of sucked candy dropped on the floor of a pet salon. So it's a terrible day for those trying to escape reminders of a lost love or those who are alone. I've had students complain to me how much they hate it because they are always alone and they dread Christmas. It's quite sad really.

After the day, things calm down, children get a few presents from Santa and maybe some families go out for a meal, but it really is a normal day. In fact, I know that some high school students (and possibly others) go to school on Christmas Day! They will never know that special feeling of Christmas. I didn't have that this year, but we did have a great Christmas, we opened nice presents, had an all-you-can-eat lunch, watched a genius taiko drummer that drew a huge crowd, sang karaoke, and met Darth Vader. You really can't top that. Go Japan!

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