Though I spent many summers in Japan while I was growing up, it wasn't until I was married and living in Tokushima with Mr. Q that I experienced Christmas in Japan.
Is it okay for me to admit that it was a bit of a letdown? All the stores were decorated for the holiday, with popular American Christmas songs being played over the speakers, but there were no Christmas events - no concerts, no parties, no ice-skating in the park... and the 25th is not a national holiday, so we still had to work! Many people still exchange gifts, but it's considered more of a romantic holiday, sort of like Valentine's Day; you spend Christmas Eve on a date with your honey. And the food traditions? Brace yourself...
Everyone eats Kentucky Fried Chicken and Christmas cake on Christmas Eve. Seriously. The 24th and 25th are the busiest days of the year for KFC. I have no idea how this tradition started, but a friend hypothesized that it may have to do with the fact that Colonel Sanders does look a bit like Santa Claus.
And Christmas cake? It is a simple white or yellow sponge cake with whipped cream frosting and some kind of decoration, usually involving strawberries. A bit like a glorified strawberry shortcake, actually.
I love my Japanese roots. I honestly do. But I cannot support these shenanigans. Japanese Christmas is SO not wabisabi. So in this instance, I side with my New England heritage and will eschew fried chicken and cake in favor of a true Christmas dinner with apple pie, cookies, and egg nog. But I will leave you with a heartfelt Meri Kurisumasu!