Christmas: A Shinto Point of View

Credit// The Culture Arts

By: Anna Tsang

A few years ago, my mother got a job transfer from New York, New York, to Tokyo, Japan. I fortunately was lucky enough, to be able to trace my roots back to my Japanese culture. 

In Japan, Christmas is mostly celebrated for the joy and festivity it brings. It also interestingly enough, brings love into the atmosphere.

The Japanese celebrate lots of Western holidays. Besides presents on Christmas day, Christmas Eve is a romantic holiday. In most places in Japan you have to book months in advance to get a restaurant reservation on Christmas Eve. 

In Japan it is common to give Christmas presents. Until I was seven years old I received presents from my parents, but I never got them anything. The reasoning behind this is that only Santa brings presents, so once the children no longer believe in Santa the presents are no longer given. Unfortunately, my older sister ruined the magical presence of Santa for me :(

My family puts up a huge Christmas tree and string lights around the house. Typically my mother will bring home a cake from work the day before Christmas holidays. Here in Japan, Christmas is apparently the perfect time to outdo one another in cake baking. And, well, as long as there's cake, hey-I'm not complaining!

My family does celebrate Christmas with an open heart, and we celebrate it for the happiness and joy it brings our people, which are important ties into the Shinto culture. It's also a wonderful opportunity for shopping, eating good food, spending leisure time with friends and enjoyment with our family.

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