It is the morning of Christmas day in Japan, and my son received Monopoly as a Christmas present. That is a game he played a lot in England, and it brings his memories back from there.
With Christmas pudding, it is an English Christmas for us in many ways.
As you know, we don’t celebrate Christmas in Japan, and it isn’t a holiday here. I worked yesterday and I just finished giving my last lesson of the year this morning. I teach English as well, and I give some skype lessons to people in Tokyo. Thanks to the internet, while living in a small rural town, I get to work with people in Tokyo, which is refreshing, because they give me perspectives that I don’t encounter locally.
I think the internet will enable more people to live in the countryside and build a trend of Satoyama cities in the Age of Air.
Anyway, we usually work on December 24th and 25th unless they are on weekends in Japan and the atmosphere is completely different here from that in Christian countries. Last night, we had Christmas eve dinner but I didn’t drink because I had a lesson to give at 10 o’clock. Today, I don’t have any more lessons to give so that I can have a relaxed Christmas dinner. We will have chicken. We had steak yesterday. I know it isn’t the Ikigai Dietsh dinner, but this is one of these occasions when we break rules to enjoy eating. Well, we are not breaking rules since we haven’t set any rules in the first place. It is very much part of the Ikigai Diet in that sense.
For details, read Chapter 12 Adding Hygge to the Japanese Diet.
Christmas isn’t a religious event in Japan. It is more for kids and usually, a family with children have Christmas dinner and eat cake and stuff. We have some Christmas decorations like a Christmas tree, but not much. For many people, they don’t have anything particular to eat on Christmas eve, and they don’t have Christmas dinner on Christmas day. Chicken is popular as a Christmas dish because it is promoted a lot at supermarkets, yet, many people have Chinese food or Sushi. As long as they are festival dishes, anything is fine. We have Christmas cake that is not like Christmas pudding at all. It has cream on it and sometimes has strawberries on it.
We are one of the very few people who have Christmas pudding. Stollen is becoming popular now and sold at many bakeries.
Why do we have Christmas in Japan, anyway?
I think it is very much to do with our Shinto tradition. Shintoism is a Japanese religion and we believe in many gods. It is polytheism, and because of that, we can include any gods. Unlike monotheism, we don’t think our god is superior to other gods, let alone think other gods are evil. If many people around the world feel happy around this time of the year, why not join the festival kind of mindset. It is the winter solstice, a sacred period, after all.
I used to think it was strange behavior, but now I think it is very much part of Shinto culture, and it makes perfect sense.
From the Ikigai Diet’s point of view, celebrations make you feel happy and therefore it is better to have more. Having family gatherings is one of the keys to longevity in Blue Zones, so why not? You don’t have to celebrate Christmas at all if you are not Christians either. From Shindofuji’s point of view, you want to value local tradition and culture. If you are Japanese, you can embrace Japanese festivals, not Christmas or Halloween.
Either way is okay. Do whatever you want to do. If you feel happy about Christmas, then celebrate it, if not, then don’t. That’s all. It is as simple as that. There is no judgment.
In our family, we do, because our son loves it, and it reminds me of the time in the West, it is a great opportunity for me to connect to the European culture.
I received French wine and German wine as Christmas presents, and we have Danish Camembert cheese, so it is going to be a European Christmas dinner tonight.
The Ikigai Diet: The Secret Japanese Diet to Health and Longevity