Straight to Christmas

So Halloween is finally finished and we’re now moving into the Holiday season. It is November 4th and we officially had our first snowfall of 2020. Hooray! That is a cause for celebration.

But this post is about Christmas. Yes, Christmas already.

2020 Christmas blend of coffee and design from Starbucks

If you live in Japan, they usually go straight to Christmas and New Year and completely skip the US holiday of Thanksgiving.

Yes, I know. Most people don’t celebrate the American tradition, and it makes me sad because it’s actually my favorite holiday–more so than Christmas.

I love Thanksgiving, but it’s not really well known in Japan and in other parts of the world aside from Canada and the US. In Japan, as soon as Halloween goods and promotions are done, most stores already gear up for Christmas and go overboard with decorations and seasonal products. I guess it’s all about the sales. I can understand it. As soon as November hits, businesses have two more months to make their last push to have a good year in profits.

In Japan, though, Christmas means cake or chicken. And the thing with stores is that people need to make reservations to have the products available in time to eat on December 25. Stores are already taking reservations for cake and chicken.

Flyer for Christmas cake

Oh, and this is also the season to get ready for the New Year.

Wait, what?

Yup, the New Year–as in January 1, 2021.

For the New Year or Shougatsu, people need to make reservations for soba, or more specifically toshi-koshi soba that people eat on the first day or when the year changes. Toshi-koshi (としこし年越し) means to move into the new year (年) year and (越) a move. On top of that, you also need to reserve osechi おせち料理, which is a meal that is served in a stack of bento-like boxes but are more festive and of higher quality than usual.

Flyer for Osechi Orders

Each family celebrates the New Year separately, but in my husband’s family, soba is eaten on December 31st. When the countdown ends, we all slurp at our soba noodles noisily and greet each other a Happy New Year. No firecrackers or champagne popping. However, I do share some sake with my father-in-law. We are drinking buddies, after all. 

The next day, we eat osechi. My mother-in-law is very traditional, so she usually cooks it instead of buying it, which means we don’t need to make our reservations. I usually am in the kitchen helping her out. Sometimes, when she doesn’t do anything for her husband’s family, my sister-in-law comes and we all cook the meal together. 

Store display at Tokyu Department Store

Christmas in Japan is meant mostly for couples and kids, not families. It is apparently very romantic. I might have previously stated on this blog that I am not a very romantic person, which is probably why I don’t enjoy Christmas. But that’s what it’s all about here in Japan. Couples celebrate romantic dinners with each other, while I stay home and drink my wine while my husband watches whatever sports show is playing on TV.

Yes, that’s our version of the holidays.

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