|A Temple in Kyoto|
From Finland we're traveling to Japan, our first stop in Asia. Did you know that Christmas hasn't always been celebrated in Japan? This is because there aren't many Christians in this country, so it is not celebrated by everyone. But over the years, a few Christmas traditions from the United States have come to Japan, like giving presents or Christmas cards. And because many people are not Christians, Christmas has become a time of spreading happiness rather than celebrating Jesus' birth, which is of course the true meaning of Christmas.
Fried chicken is often eaten on Christmas Day, and people will place orders at KFC months before December. This tradition first began in the 1970s, and now it is done every year. They also eat Japanese Christmas cake, a sponge cake that is decorated with strawberries and whipped cream (now that does sound delicious).
|Japanese Christmas Cake|
The Japanese New Year (called Shogatsu or Oshogatsu in Japanese) is a bigger holiday in Japan than Christmas, and it's celebrated more than Christmas Day. Families get together, have a special meal, pray and send each other cards. It's celebrated over five days-from December 31st to January 4th-and it is a very busy time for people in Japan.
*Christmas Eve is celebrated more than Christmas Day because people celebrate it as a romantic day, and couples spend time together and give presents. It's a lot like the U.S.'s Valentine's Day. In fact, so many people have romantic dinners at restaurants that it can be difficult to find a table if you haven't made a reservation.
*Christmas day isn't a national holiday in Japan, and kids still have to go to school. But on December 23, people celebrate the birthday of the current emperor, Akihito, and that's a national holiday instead.
Put the Nose on the Face!
Since Christmas isn't as big as the Japanese New Year, they often play a traditional New Year's game called Fukuwarai, or "Lucky Laugh" in English. This game is a lot like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey." The goal is to put the different parts of the face onto a blank face while wearing a blindfold. So go draw the different parts of someone's face and try to put them together while not looking.
All of the above information has been taken from the Wycliffe-created characters, Kate and Mack. If you would like to sign up for more children activities or learn about the book they feature in (Around the World with Kate and Mack), click on this link: http://www2.wycliffe.org/a-z.