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Christmas in Japan

Only six days to go, and while us Brits race around grabbing the Boots 3 for 2 offers and scribbling the last few cards to post through to our neighbours, the Japanese are preparing to celebrate in a slightly different fashion.

Even though only 0.5% of the population are estimated to be Christian, those in Japan tend to celebrate the commercial side of Christmas. Lights are strung up in the streets, Christmas trees in malls and public spaces are adorned with decorations, and cards are exchanged between friends.

It’s taken on a bit of a romantic notion, though, and in some respects seems a bit similar to the Western concept of Valentine’s day: it’s seen as a time to spend with your significant other, and couples exchange ‘cute’ gifts like teddy bears, flowers and jewellery.

Christmas Eve is often celebrated with a special ‘Christmas cake’—a sponge cake decorated with whipped cream and strawberries—and as for the all-important Christmas dinner, you won’t find a stuffing ball or a roast parsnip here.

Thanks to Japan’s lack of turkeys and a successful marketing campaign in 1974, KFC is now the national customary dish on Christmas day. Queues at the famous fast food chain are commonplace between the 23rd and the 25th, and pre-orders of the Christmas Party Barrels can be made up to two months in advance.

メリークリスマス! (Google Translate tells us that means 'Merry Christmas!')