5 things that are eaten on Christmas day in Japan

November 28, 2022

What is Christmas like in Japan?

Japan is not a historical Christian country. The Japanese population are largely atheist. Since most people do not follow any religion, some Christian events are celebrated in Japan mostly for commerce reasons.

Christmas was first celebrated in 1552, 3 years after Christianity first came to Japan. Christmas has a history in Japan but was banned in 1612 along with the whole Christianity religion by the government at the time.

In 1873, Japanese government allowed people to follow religion again, and Christianity came back. Still, there were not many Christians, and Christmas was celebrated slightly differently when compared with the western world. However, companies saw the opportunity to increase their sales during Christmas time. Shopping centres and retailers started to decorate just like in the western world and people started to give presents. During the early Japanese Christmas celebrations, it was commonplace to give toothpaste as a gift.

Today, Christmas in Japan is more commonly for couples to spend romantic time together and not so much about family like it is in western culture. This is because the new year celebration is the time to spend with family. However, small gifts are exchanged and people eat KFC. Yes... KFC is the national Christmas dinner in Japan! 

So, what do people in Japan eat on Christmas day? Here are 5 meals that are eaten at Christmas in Japan. 

1. KFC / Chicken dish 

fried chicken dish

Since it is hard to get turkey in Japan, chicken is eaten on Christmas day. KFC started selling Christmas chicken deals in the 70s. For this reason, many people cook a chicken dish at Christmas, such as kara-age, teriyaki chicken, or fried chicken.

2 . Christmas cake

Japanese Christmas cake

Layer cake with strawberries on top is normally served after Christmas dinner. A cake shop called Fujiya started selling Christmas decoration cake in 1910 and it became common for Japanese people to get Christmas cakes.

3. Pizza

a slice of pizza

Pizza is just known as a party meal and some people order pizza and eat it on Christmas day.

4. Potato salad

plates of potato salad

Potato salad is also eaten on Christmas dinner as a side dish, which is believed to come from German culture as about 40% of Germans eat potato salad on Christmas eve.

5. Cream stew

cream stew

Cream stew is a popular Yōshoku dish consisting of meat, usually chicken or pork, and mixed vegetables, onion, carrot, potato and cabbage, cooked in thick white roux. Cream stew is known as winter dish in Japan as it keeps you warm. People believe that cream stew is a western meal and serve it on Christmas as stew is originally from western countries.

Have a happy Christmas!

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