Christmas in Canada vs. Christmas in Japan

By Ayumi Hirata, Langara College, featured writer for the Study in BC blog. Read more from Ayumi here.

I already have Christmas fever because Christmas is right around the corner! It was not until last year that I spent Christmas for the first time in Canada. Comparing Canadian Christmas to Japanese Christmas, here are some differences that I noticed.

Who you celebrate with

First of all, Christmas in Japan is a day for couples and Christmas in Canada is more for family gatherings. In Japan, it is common for couples go on a date on Christmas Eve and on Christmas Day instead of spending time with their families. If you go to see Christmas lights in Japan, you will see many couples and sometimes families with small children. However, in Canada, people have a good time at these events with their family and relatives. I think Canada’s Christmas is more similar to Japan’s New Year’s Day because they both emphasize gathering and celebrating as a family.

National holiday

Secondly, unlike Japan, December 25 is a national holiday in Canada. When I was a high school student in Japan, I had to go to school on Christmas Day if it was a weekday. I still remember that I complained about it! In Canada, fall semester finishes before Christmas Day so I have enough time to enjoy the festive season.

Exchanging gifts

Thirdly, Canadian Christmas is different from Japanese Christmas in terms of presents. Most Canadians exchange presents with their family and friends. In contrast, Japanese parents give Christmas presents to their children, but the children generally don’t give a gift in return. When I was in Japan, I never gave Christmas presents to my parents even though they gave me presents. Some Japanese parents give money to their teenage children.

Christmas atmosphere

Lastly, Japanese people enjoy Christmas season the most on Christmas Eve instead of on Christmas Day. In Japan, regardless of who people spend the holidays with, they will celebrate with a special dinner on Christmas Eve. On December 25, the Christmas atmosphere is almost over in Japan because people will start preparing for New Year’s Day!

Although I spent the previous Christmas in Canada without my family, I still enjoyed the festive season fully. I had a secret Santa party last year with my new friends who I had met in Canada. We went to the Christmas market where people could experience a European-style Christmas and we went to see the Christmas lights. I can’t wait for Christmas this year! May you have a warm, joyful Christmas this year.

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