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Christmas In Japan and In Greece



Some of my friends here gave me this while I was in the Mall shopping for Christmas. I don’t know how true the info may be, but it was interesting to read as I well know not everyone or every country celebrate Christmas!


Christmas in Japan


Christmas Around the World

Christmas is one of the few holidays that is celebrated in Japan as much as in other countries. Whether the symbols of Christmas are the candles, singing carols, or Santa Kurohsu, the spirit rarely changes: the spirit of peace, giving gifts, and good will towards everyone. Christmas began in Japan at the beginning of the 20th century, and is sure to keep on going.




There are 2 special customs in Japan: First, the daiku, or Great nine, which refers to Beethoven's ninth symphony. This is performed in many places at Christmas time (also New Year), sometimes with huge masses of choruses for the most famous part, with what Americans sing as a hymn - "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee."


The second custom is the Christmas cake. Christmas in Japan just wouldn't be the same without it. It's a blessing to the Japanese bakery industries, that's for sure, because this is not a home project. Japanese are shocked when told that America knows of no Christmas cake, and that it is only a Japanese custom.




Japanese families eat turkey mainly on Christmas Day, but some eat it on Christmas Eve depending on their custom.


Christmas Trees


There are no live Christmas trees in Japan - only artificial trees. Not that many houses have their own tree yet, but they are starting to appear more often at Christmastime. The trees are decorated with small toys, dolls, paper ornaments, gold paper fans, lanterns and wind chimes. The most popular ornament is the 'origami swan.' The Christmas tree is placed in hospitals to lift the spirits of the sick.




Mistletoe and evergreen are hung from the ceilings. Tinsels and lights are hung in the dance halls, cafes and pinball parlours (where 'modern- minded' Japanese go to celebrate). An amulet for good luck is placed on the front door. The number of Christmas lights put up in shops has increased 1000% over the last seven years. Japanese children exchanged thousands of 'birds of peace' in the past, as a pledge that war must not occur again.




For a few weeks before Christmas, shops set up displays of appropriate gifts for men, women and children (especially children). On Christmas day, families sit around the tree to exchange their gifts, whether it be at their house, relatives' or friends'. For some families who have Christmas trees, they gather the presents under the tree as we do.




Santa Kurohsu, as people call Santa in Japan, is a popular character at Christmas time. In Japan, Santa does not yet appear in person, like in shopping centres. He is only pictured as an advertising foil. Santa is pictured as a kind old man, carrying a round sack on his back. He is said to have eyes on the back of his head, so he can watch the children all year round.




Most churches will have their own special Christmas worship service on the nearest Sunday before the 25th of December, and perhaps on Christmas Eve.




The story of Jesus born in a manger is fascinating to the little girls of Japan, for they love anything having to do with babies. In the scene in the nativity, many become familiar for the first time with a cradle, for Japanese babies have not slept traditionally in cradles. Others may even put on plays about the birth of Jesus.




Christianity in Japan is pretty low, with 1% believing in Christ, and only a few truly understanding the significance of the birth of Jesus. The Christian faith was first introduced in Japan by Jesuits, and later by Franciscan missionaries in the 16th century. There were probably about 300,000 baptised believers in Japan. Unfortunately, the promising beginning met reverses, brought by rivalries between different groups of missionaries and political intrigues (by Spanish and Portuguese government). The first victims were 6 Franciscan friars and 20 of their converts, who were crucified at Nagasaki on 5 February 1597. After a short time, other Christians were arrested, imprisoned for life, tortured and killed. The church was totally ignored by 1630. The church began to grow again after Commodore Perry opened Japan with America’s great white fleet. Missionaries poured into Japan to start Christianity again in Japan in the 20th century. People wanted to forget about the happenings and started life again.




In some homes, Christmas carols are sung gaily. One of the most poular songs is "Silent Night." Children are chosen to sing carols to the patients in hospitals. Some carols are sung in shops, and some songs are sung in English.


I thought this would be interesting for some members, the next one is how Christmas is celebrated in Greece, two countries located so far apart! :yadayada: :rolleyes:



Now Christmas ih Greece...Part two of Christmas around the world...




Christmas in Greece


Christmas Around the World



In Greece, it is said that St. Nicholas wears drenched clothing and has brine in his beard. He drips with sea water, and his face is covered with perspiration, because he has been working hard against the waves to reach sinking ships on the angry sea. In Greece, they say "Eftihismena Christouge" for "Merry Christmas." Some households keep fires burning through the 12 days of Christmas to keep bad spirits from entering by the chimney. Christmas in Greece goes for twelve days.




While other cultures have the Christmas elves, the Greek equivalent is not so benign. Mischievous and even dangerous spirits called the Kallikantzai prey upon people, but only during the twelve days of Christmas, between Christmas and Epiphany on January 6th. Descriptions of the Kallikantzai vary. In one area, they are believed to wear wooden or iron boots, the better to kick people with. In other areas, some insist they be hooved, not booted. Almost invariably males, other regions see them in forms of wolves or even monkeys. The Kallikantzai are believed to emerge from the centre of the earth and slip into people's houses through the chimney. More mischievous than actually evil, the Kallikantzai do things like extinguish fires, ride astride people's backs, braid horses' tails, and sour the milk. To further repel the undesirable spirits, the hearth is kept burning day and night throughout the twelve days. There is a folktale about a young girl who is forced to walk alone to the mill through the twelve days, because her stepmother is hoping that the Kallikantzai will snatch her away.




At Christmas, children travel house to house singing "Kalanda," a carol, and giving good wishes. Afterwards, the children are often given sweets or coins in appreciation.




After 40 days of fasting, adults and children look forward to the Christmas feast. Pigs are slaughtered, and on almost every table are loaves of bread, or Christopsomo (Christ bread). This bread is made in large, sweet loaves of various shapes, and the crusts are engraved and decorated in some way that reflects the family’s profession.


SOURCE: Christmas Around the World

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wowfred thank you for the wonderful facts about japan and christmas, i thought that japan did celibrate christmas i just dibn"t know to what extent thank you for making it so comptehensive and a pleasure to read fred

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