Monday, December 21, 2009

T'is the season

My family is arriving in Japan today from America, and I feel under-prepared. There's still cleaning, shopping, and decorating to be done. After all, Christmas is only a few short days away.

I think it can be very difficult to get into the "Christmas spirit" over here. Sure, the decorations and Christmas consumer culture seem to be catching on here, but it's not quite the same. No one says "Merry Christmas" or "Happy holidays." There's really only a vague understanding of what Christmas is. Most people don't know about Santa's elves, or Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer (they do have the song over here, but he's just called "the red-nosed reindeer" sans Rudolph). Forget about Frosty the snowman. And of course this isn't a Christian country, so the whole celebration of the birth of Christ thing is lost, as well.

If you're over here and you find yourself aching for that Christmas spirit, I have a few tips:

1. Spend time with friends or family. Hanging out alone can really be a drag during the holiday season, so either spend some time with ex-pat friends or invite some Japanese over and educate them on Christmas partying. Exchanging a few presents can be good fun.

2. Do some decorating. Find a little tree and some Christmas lights, maybe some cheap stockings; you can get most of this stuff at 100-yen shops like Daiso.

3. Procure some Christmas movies and music. Nothing like watching a Christmas Story or listening to some carols to get you into the mood. Personally, the "Carol of the Bells" always gets me pumped for Christmas.

4. Make some Christmasy food/drinks. You may have trouble getting something like a Christmas turkey over here, but you can certainly try your hand at the classic seasonal beverage, eggnog! I actually made some this past weekend and it turned out pretty well. There are tons of easy recipes to be found online.

5. If you're religious, attend a service. I skipped this last year and regretted it, so this year I'm going to go to Christmas mass.

That's about it for now. If you have any thoughts about Christmas in Japan or traditions/practices of your own, let me know!

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