Blackcabbit (aka. Dionnie Takahashi) is an illustrator living in Japan. She loves drawing whimsical animal characters, as well as doing handmade crafts to beautify the world she lives in.
As a Christian, Kurisumasu (クリスマス / Christmas) is undoubtably my favorite holiday. However, being in a nation deep in Buddhism and Shinto roots, Christmas in Japan is hardly Christ-centered at all. And most mind-boogling of all, it is Christmas Eve that takes on center stage instead of 25th December. I’m suspecting that somehow Tatsuro Yamashita (山下達郎) is responsible for that. (:P) His song “Kurisumasu Ibu” (クリスマス・イブ / Christmas Eve) released in 1983, is a phenomenal hit for almost three decades. If you hear the song being played, you’ll know that the Japanese are getting ready for their holiday season.
Heavily influenced by the media, the Japanese kinda associate the “Western” festival with strawberry cakes, ornament-decorated trees or wreaths, Santa figurines, romantic dinners, extravagant gifts and glittering lights. Christmas lightings here is more commonly known as “Illumination” (イルミネーション). Thousands of colorful lights (or even millions in some places) beautifully illuminate trees, buildings, sculptures at night, filling the streets with an enchanting and romantic atmosphere.
Christmas Illuminations can be found all over Japan. If you wish to know where the lighting events are held for this holiday season (Dec 2011-Jan 2012), click on these links: るるぶ and ぐるなび. This year, because of the nuclear disaster and the restraints placed on power consumption, organizers were thinking of canceling their events, dampening the holiday spirit. However, they started replacing regular bulbs with solar-powered, energy-efficient LEDs so that they can continue the tradition of mesmerizing their visitors with spectacular Christmas light displays.
Like many of their annual celebrations and festivals, Japanese love the opportunity to mingle and have fun without being too religious about the event. Every year, my father-in-law will organize a Christmas party at home for our relatives, so that the jolly grown-ups can drink to their hearts’ content.
Personally, the highlight of the party for me is the 500-yen gift exchange (LOL). Of which, we will play Bingo to determine who will get to choose a present first. The game will go on, until everyone wins a bingo and get to open their Christmas package.
Yes, these are all good holiday fun but honestly, nothing beats honoring the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus Christ. So tomorrow, we (a family of three) will go for a worship service in the morning, to celebrate Christmas the Christ-centered way, the way it should be. Happy Birthday, Jesus! Our true gift from God.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16 (New International Version)
Blessed Christmas, everyone!
I did an Etegami (Picture Postcard) for Christmas,
finger-painted with SketchBook Pro on my iPad
Message: Iesu Tanjobi Omedetou – Kurisumasu no Shini
(Happy Birthday, Jesus – The true Meaning of Christmas).