Strawberry Shortcake and KFC: Christmas in Japan

In Japan, they do Christmas a little differently.

Which, considering they’re not a Christian country, makes perfect sense.

Although introduced by Christian missionaries in the 16th Century, Christmas didn’t fully enter the Japanese collective consumer consciousness until after WW2. Influenced by the occupying US troops, the Japanese adopted what they believed were Western Christmas customs, but in doing so, inadvertently created their own unique traditions.

Strawberry shortcake and Christmas KFC are the best examples of this.

Prior to WW2, the Japanese didn’t really consume a lot of desserts. However after the war, US GIs were fond of handing out chocolates and sweet treats and soon the nation’s collective sweet-tooth grew, along with their desire to “Americanise”.

In an effort to be more American, Christmas was adopted, trees were decorated, presents were exchanged and the Japanese Christmas cake, a sponge cake filled with cream and decorated with strawberries, was born.

What a beautiful baby!
Photo by Takuya Nagaoka on Unsplash

A few decades later, this cake would find its way onto your phone: 🍰

The desire to Americanise also explains why you’ll also find a bucket of KFC on the Christmas dinner table in Japan.

Every Christmas, millions of buckets of the Colonel’s special recipe are consumed by the Japanese in lieu of traditional Christmas turkey.

Phew! Photo by Sheri Hooley on Unsplash

KFC restaurants are also a popular choice for young Japanese couples, eager for a romantic Christmas Eve dining experience.

Because nothing says romance like a bucket of something.
Photo by Aleks Dorohovich on Unsplash

The choice to eat chicken at Christmas could be due to the fact that in Asia turkey is hard to come by, expensive to import and tricky to cook (especially as the majority of Japanese homes don’t have ovens).

However, aggressive marketing campaigns probably have a lot more to do with it.

Merii Kurisumasu!

RESOURCES AND FURTHER READING:

https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2014/12/16/369830094/a-christmas-cake-that-isn-t-about-christmas-at-all

10 comments

  1. That was really fun! I’d rather pick up food than be responsible for that damn duck this year … but I do wonder what makes KFC romantic 😉

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