Merii Kurisumasu! Even though it's not a national holiday, Christmas is still a big hit in Japan. They decorate with Christmas trees and give each other gifts. The Japanese Christmas Cake, much like strawberry shortcake, is one of the most prominent traditions. Since only 2 percent of Japanese people are Christian, the focus of the holiday is helping others. Many families spend the day in service.
In Japan, there is a kind old man called Hoteiosho, who is like Santa Claus. He carries a huge pack and is said to have eyes in the back of his head, so the children behave if they ever think that he is around.
For Japanese Latter-day Saints, the holiday is a special time when they can draw together and celebrate Christ. "Every Japanese ward has a spiritual celebration in the chapel," says Yoko Ikegami of Himeji City. "We then eat together, and everyone brings a food to share. Sometime on Christmas Eve, we go caroling in front of the train station where there are many people coming and going. Some people stop to listen and enjoy the singing."
Japanese Christmas Cake
- 3 eggs
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon milk, warmed
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- various fruits (such as strawberries, peaches, cherries, oranges)
Himeji City, Hyogo-pref, Japan
Recipes and experiences excerpted from Worldwide Christmas Cookbook by Deanna Buxton. Copyright 2009, Covenant.