Japanese Culture: Christmas Eve in Japan

Posted on 21. Dec, 2008 by in Holidays

Christmas Eve or crismas ebu (クリスマスイブ) the way Japanese people pronounce it, is often a romantic holiday.  If someone asks you out on a date on Christmas Eve, it’s usually a sign that the person is serious about you.  On Christmas Eve, you’ll see lots of young couples walking and holding hands.  Sometimes I get confused because it’s a lot like Valentines Day than Christmas.  You’ll also find it difficult to book a reservation in a restaurant on that day.  Gift shops are also packed.  The most common gifts are sweet and cute like teddy bears, flowers, candy, promise rings, etc.

Depending on the family, fruit cakes are also consumed on Christmas Eve.  (Sometimes a family will eat a fruit cake on Christmas Day rather than Christmas Eve.)  I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking about those awful fruit cakes in America, where most of them get thrown away or get stale from sitting out in the open so long.  The fruit cakes in Japan are not quite the same as the ones in the U.S.  The Japanese call these fruit cakes crisumasu keeki (クリスマスケーキ).  Crisumasu keekis (クリスマスケーキ) are really delicious.  They’re usually made of sponge cake with whip cream.  The cake is usually decorated with fruits like strawberries, oranges, and peaches.  It’s so delicious!

In fact, if you buy these cakes on Christmas Day you can get a discount on these cakes.  A lot of confectionary stores are eager to get rid of these cakes and start the new year with other treats.  The cakes are sometimes wrapped in pretty square boxes.  They have a hole at the top where you can insert your fingers and carry the cake without having to worry about ruining the cake.  It reminds me of those Happy Meal boxes at McDonalds.

This isn’t a national tradition in Japan, but it’s a tradition in my family.  On Christmas Eve, the adults will drink plum sake called umeshuu (うめしゅ).  It’s nice to have it after consuming a big dinner.  It clears out your throat really well.  I like it not for its taste, but because I like to see grandpa’s reaction after he gets drunk.  He’s usually a reserved guy, but after some umeshuu (うめしゅ) he starts telling stories that never stay consistent year after year.  Haha!  Well that’s it for today.  Tune in for my post on what happens on Christmas Day in Japan!

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