(See page 2 for the German version)
This year I did not fly back to Germany to spend the Christmas holidays with my family. It was okay. A few tears were shed, inevitably, a melancholy Facebook Post was written, but Christmas time is not that long, and after it is over, you can already look forward to a few free days and the Japanese New Year, which is also like a “family celebration”, here.
Nevertheless, I will try to spend Christmas next year at „home“ in Germany. Of course, spending Christmas in Japan is not that bad (except for the fact that most people have to work as it is not a national holiday). Everywhere in Tokyo you can admire the flashing Christmas lights, as the different areas in Tokyo are trying to outdo each other by using even more hundreds of thousands of LED lights than the year before. Midtown Christmas, Omotesando Hills or the classic Christmas lights near Tokyo Tower were some of the `highlights` this year. What else you can expect in Tokyo around Christmas time, are Christmas decorations, advertisings for the sugar sweet and overly cute „Christmas cake“ (which ideally is a cream cake with strawberries) or chicken wings, which have become your typical Christmas food, – even if no one knows why. Further, many people go out for Christmas parties with friends, and, most importantly, go out for a date on Christmas Eve – but this can also be replaced by a Christmas party if there is not significant other available. And recently, even the youngest are starting to look forward to Santa Claus so that parents are beginning to get worried about Christmas presents, too.
Like this, it seems as if Japan is also getting its own “traditions for Christmas time”, which you can either enjoy, – or condemn for not having any “real meaning”. That is also, what bothers me a little bit about Japan`s Christmas version: Some western Christmas traditions have been taken over, but without taking into consideration what kind of celebration Christmas really is. Hardly anyone thinks about the „meaning“ of Christmas as a Christian festival, a celebration of love and of „giving“.
On the other hand, in Germany there are of course also a lot of people that complain about Christmas and its significance getting lost due to people who just spend a lot of money on Christmas presents, or that families don`t even enjoy getting together during the Holidays. Nevertheless, I am one of the persons who get really excited weeks before Christmas, actually looking forward to it. For example, I love the Christmas markets that can usually be found in every city in Germany, and which, although not using hundred thousands of lights for their Christmas illuminations, have a cozy atmosphere with their smell of roasted almonds and mulled wine. The people, at least those who are not stressed out because of all the Christmas shopping, seem to be nicer to each other and more relaxed than usual, supermarket cashiers wish you a „Merry Christmas“, and overall you easily get into a nice festive mood. And of course, as for the most important thing, the family comes together, we go to church, eat delicious food, exchange presents and think a little about the meaning of Christmas.
Since I wasn`t able to spend Christmas with my family this year and we not even had a Christmas tree, my boyfriend and me at least wanted to go out and enjoy a delicious meal. We decided to eat at the Italian Restaurant La Porta Felice, which can be found in Gokokuji near Ikebukuro, and offers really good Italian food without being too expensive. Oh, and of course we also exchanged gifts, so there is nothing really to complain about, right? 😉
And how did you spend Christmas this year?