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[P]
Kurisumasu in Japan

By jonathanwilson in Op-Ed
Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 10:29:05 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

How is a 25-year-old single woman like Christmas cake? Unless you know about Christmas in Japan you will never guess the answer to this one (read on to find out!) As usual the Japanese have taken something Western and adapted it to their own needs and tastes. The sights and sounds of the season are everywhere in Japan in December but has the spirit of Christmas got a ghost of a chance?


Typically Christmas in America is a family affair with all the relatives gathering together from far away to some central location like grandmother's house. New Year's Eve is traditionally a time to go to parties with friends and sleep it off the next day while watching the games on TV. In Japan this is reversed. Christmas is not an actual national holiday so whatever celebrating has to be done after work. The big winter holiday is New Year's, which for tens of thousands of Japanese involves traveling from Tokyo or one of the other large cities back to their hometowns in the countryside. New Year's is the quintessential Japanese "family" holiday and Christmas is more of an excuse to have fun with friends or particularly with that "special" friend. In fact, in Japan Christmas Eve is much more the main event than Christmas morning. Christmas Eve is considered to be the number one date night of the year. It is the big chance to have a romantic night out and all of the luxury hotels sell out reservations far in advance.

Retailers are the biggest Christmas enthusiasts. Every department store and shopping complex is decked out with Christmas finery and many places put on elaborate light shows at night to attract couples to come and spend their money. Christmas music is played non-stop and much of it is Japanese Christmas music written by pop musicians largely on the theme of Christmas romance. In many ways Christmas is very similar to another holiday import, Valentine's Day. (This holiday was actually introduced and popularized in Japan by chocolate companies as a day when girls give chocolates to their boyfriends -- it mutated in truly Japanese style into a ritual where women are forced by custom and obligation to give chocolates to every man with whom they work, especially their bosses. The chocolate companies then invented a whole new holiday called "White Day" on March 14th for men to return the favor to women. A truly win-win situation for the chocolate companies.)

At New Year's children in a Japanese household receive New Year's money from relatives, so in many families Christmas presents aren't given. Instead the father will pick up a Christmas cake on the way home from work. Cake shops and convenience stores set up tables out in front with salespeople in Santa costumes to sell these cakes with Christmas decorations. Of course nobody wants these cakes the next day on the 25th, once Christmas Eve has come and gone. Which brings us back to why in Japan a girl of 25 is regarded as "Christmas Cake" or an old maid that nobody would want to marry anyway. This has been a common saying in Japan for years but recently hasn't really been true as most Japanese are waiting longer and longer to marry and have children, oftentimes into their mid 30's.

What I have found missing during my Christmases in Japan has been the Christmas "magic".  Somehow around Christmas in America hearts grow softer, people are more willing to forgive and let things slide, and more folks give to the less fortunate than at any other time of year.  Perhaps that is changing in America as well as Christmas grows more commercialized and we have to be reminded that there is a "reason" for the season other than just the excuse to get the latest gadget we have been wanting.  For some the reason has always been religious, for others it might simply be the thought that it is better to give than to receive.  But regardless, as nothing more than a year-end shopping spree, Christmas seems to have lost something.  Like pizza in Japan, where it is perfectly normal to replace the cheese with mayonnaise and top it all off with corn, "Kurisumasu" looks a lot like Christmas but sure doesn't taste like it.    

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Kurisumasu in Japan | 135 comments (87 topical, 48 editorial, 0 hidden)
Did they? (2.64 / 14) (#6)
by SaintPort on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 09:47:00 AM EST

The Japanese have turned Christmas into the perfect commercial holiday

While I agree with your position and thrust, this particular idea bothers me.  I do not think the Japanese culture had any context to change Christmas.  I think they just adopted what they saw the West doing.  This is just a hip foreign holiday.

It actually amazes me that they adopted any of Christmas since they probably have a vauge idea that it celebrates the birth of Jesus.  And those who have any idea who Jesus was probably think He was just a Buddha manifestation for the Jews and the Romans, who had some really restrictive ideas about sex and was killed on a cross.

Then again Japanese lit is full of tragedy.  So maybe celebrating in the name of a disturbing figure is not so strange to them.

Is it not also amazing that they celebrate the New Year by the Chritian (Western) calendar?

In close, look on the bright side; as long as pagans celebrate Christmas, believers have context to spread the gospel...

Christmas (by definition) is celebrating...

God took on human form,

To take the punishment for our sin,

Because we were unable to pay it.

So that we could receive God's Spirit
Into our own vessel,

Be changed,
And LIVE forever.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

Leave of the god stuff, willya? (nt) (1.70 / 10) (#22)
by LQ on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:53:54 AM EST



[ Parent ]
Christmas. (3.66 / 3) (#109)
by Bridge Troll on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 11:18:36 AM EST

Christmas is celebrating the birth of a pagan sun god. The early Church adopted the day as a celebration of the birth of Jesus in order to ease conversion from the various pagan faiths to Christianity. Jesus would more likely have been born in the spring, considering there were shepherds with their flocks -- assuming that detail is true.


And besides, pounding your meat with a club is a very satisfying thing to do :) -- Sleepy
[ Parent ]
So here we are on 3rd December ... (2.75 / 4) (#7)
by LQ on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 09:57:12 AM EST

Bit early for an Xmas article, innit?

many lament that the Christmas "spirit" is being lost due to gross commercialization

A major loss of the old Xmas spirit is when shops put out decorations and start playing carols sometime around October. Actually, in the UK, it has got better in recent years. The shops have started taking Halloween more seriously and so don't "deck the halls" until November. But after seven weeks of "Xmas gift ideas", one is heartily sick of it all. Pah! Humbug!

Advent (2.33 / 3) (#8)
by SaintPort on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 10:03:36 AM EST

I'd say his timing is perfect.

So you are a bit of the Scrooge?  Do us a favor and read some Dickens.

And note that I didn't mod you down when I disagreed with your stance.  That's the Chrismas spirit at work.  Ho, ho, ho and all that.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]

Timely for Christmas in Japan, anyhow... (none / 0) (#56)
by ArsncHeart on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:33:35 PM EST

Especially considering that I walked into J-Mart down the street from my apartment on October 9th and there was the "Kurisumasu" display.
"How you hear what I have to is not neccessarily what I said." - wedman
[ Parent ]
Coquere Ferreous (4.50 / 10) (#11)
by Rand Race on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 10:28:08 AM EST

Thank you, you've just explained something I was wondering about after watching the Iron Chef Christmas dessert battle Sunday night. Unlike most Iron Chef competitions this one not only required that the theme ingredient (strawberries) be represented by the final dishes, but also that the theme of Christmas was to be judged as well. Both Iron Chef Sakai and the challenger based their meals on romantic themes. And now I know why!

However, I must wonder if the Japanese think we do not understand the true significance of the new year, a very important religious event for the Shinto people due in great part to their reverence of Amaterasu the Sun Goddess1, for very similar reasons that you think they do not understand the true importance of Christmas. The two holidays are, after all, both a celebration of the rebirth of the respective primary deities of the cultures.

1 Interesting note here: Dec. 25 was the Mithraic holiday 'Sol Invictus' - celebrating the rebirth of Mithras in his aspect as Sun God - before it was appropriated by the Christians.


"Question with boldness even the existence of God; because if there be one, He must approve the homage of Reason rather than that of blindfolded Fear." - Thomas Jefferson

Christmas is not Easter (3.42 / 7) (#12)
by rhino1302 on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 10:57:18 AM EST

Christmas is the celebration of Christ's birth

Easter is the celebration of Christ's rebirth



[ Parent ]
Yes. (3.00 / 1) (#118)
by pope nihil on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 12:36:41 AM EST

And neither would be important without the other.

I voted.

[ Parent ]
Natalis Invicti (5.00 / 1) (#23)
by graal on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 12:03:46 PM EST

...is indeed the strongest candidate for placing the celebration of Christmas in late December. Interestingly enough, the feast of Christmas was apparently not a widely celebrated feast in the early Christian calendar.

More than you ever wanted to know can be found here.

--
For Thou hast commanded, and so it is, that every
inordinate affection should be its own punishment.
-- St. Augustine (Confessions, i)
[ Parent ]

Because originally, the Christ-mass was a noop. (5.00 / 1) (#125)
by porkchop_d_clown on Sat Dec 07, 2002 at 09:17:07 AM EST

Who cared when His birthday was? The big day was Easter.

Christians began to make a big deal about Christmas for the same reason Hannukah is now a much bigger holiday than it once was - to give the True Believers a chance to join in all the holiday parties without feeling guilty about celebrating some one else's god.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Not understanding New Year (none / 0) (#58)
by jonathanwilson on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:58:22 PM EST

But when Americans celebrate New Years they are not trying to have a "Japanese" holiday. New Years has its own significance for Westerners and we celebrated it long before we knew there was a Japan. However, Christmas is definitely an import .

[ Parent ]
The Iron Chef has got to be... (none / 0) (#112)
by theforlornone on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 01:39:36 PM EST

THE funniest show on cable!!!! I saw that episode and wondered, too. btw, if you've never seen the Iron Chef, check your local listings for it on the food network. hilarious stuff!!!

--------------
It is hard enough to remember my opinions, without also remembering my reasons for them!
-Nietzsche
[ Parent ]
That actually explains a movie i saw last night. (4.50 / 6) (#16)
by biggs on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:22:26 AM EST

This explained a japanese movie I watched last night called Parasite Eve. It was a Christmas romance story with a really cool bio-science-fiction plot that culminated in a nipple-less naked woman trying to impregnate a 12 year old girl, and carrying her around a hospital catching any people that oppose her on fire. Interesting too that when santa sent this guy his future wife Kiyome on x-mas eve she was 24 damn near a christmas cake. But I mean this is one cake with good preservatives I guess, I'd want this cake past the 25th or even through January.

--
"Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox
Looks like we kurroded that link (none / 0) (#54)
by riceowlguy on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:11:40 PM EST

Any mirrors?

I used to think that every day I didn't wake up and gargle a few rounds from a revolver was a victory, but it's moments like these that make me wonder, "a
[ Parent ]

I was also a bit disappointed with the cake:woman (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by zerth on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:30:18 AM EST

I was expecting something like "they both get eaten before santa comes"...  Especially that cake:)

Rusty isn't God here, he's the pope; our God is pedantry. -- Subtillus
[ Parent ]
-1 (3.25 / 8) (#19)
by SanSeveroPrince on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:51:27 AM EST

Too something-I-don't-like centric.

One day Mithra and Shamash will return, and kick all false gods from their now defiled altars.

Then we shall have our Saturnalia again, you holiday snatchers!!

YES!!!

----

Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


Christams Spirit? (4.40 / 5) (#20)
by cronian on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:52:16 AM EST

Christmas has its origins in an ancient Roman holiday that was adapted for Christianity. If you want to talk about Christmas in the US then you have to look at how and why it was created. Modern Christmas in the United States was started by Roosevelt along with American retailers to spark sales. Christmas spirit is mostly bullshit that is part of the American marketing ploy. Now, Japanese marketers have also taken advantage of Christmas for profit in Japan as well and Japan customs have made it a little different but that is all.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
True. (5.00 / 2) (#40)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:08:20 PM EST

Descriptions of Christmas in colonial america sound more like Mischief Night (the night before Halloween, for you unenlightened europeans)

Personally, I just let it lay - enjoy the season, enjoy the kids. I save my theological indignation for Easter.

Yesssssss. Let's explain to the little kids what castrated fertility symbols, eggs, rabbits, and baby animals have to do with crucifixion.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

such a shame.... (2.88 / 9) (#21)
by kimpton on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:53:50 AM EST

I enjoyed reading your description of Japanese christmas, though I've no idea how accurate it is, it was nicely written. But what's with the religious ending? A few decent articles on K5 have been ruined by the authors belief in sky gods....and this one is another. Let's not ruin christmas talking about (non-existent) gods shall we?

bah

WHAT are you talking about? (5.00 / 1) (#106)
by Josh A on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 10:20:26 AM EST

Including THIS sentence makes it a "religious ending"?

For some the reason has always been religious, for others it might simply be the thought that it is better to give than to receive.

As far as I can tell, the author is more concerned with people's "hearts [growing] softer" and being "more willing to forgive and let things slide" than with religion. Logically, there's not even enough information in the article to conclude that the author is religious or not. Perhaps you know something about the author from prior experience, but please judge the article on its own merits. If the author is religious, then what I see isn't an ending ruined by those beliefs, crafted precisely to avoid such an outcome. Bravo.

As for you. All I can surmise is that you are prejudiced against any mention of religion and couldn't cope. If you can explain your comment in some other way I'll rate you back up.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
if you had... (1.00 / 1) (#119)
by kimpton on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 08:32:44 AM EST

taken the time to read the other comments you would realise that the author changed the original religious ending.

As for you. All I can surmise is that you are prejudiced against any mention of religion and couldn't cope.

Not me.....it's religious people who can't cope.

[ Parent ]
-1, no KFC (3.00 / 2) (#26)
by b1t r0t on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 12:53:20 PM EST

No mention that KFC made the bucket-o-chicken a staple of Christmas in Japan?

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.
Oooo... sounds interesting, tell me more! [n/t] (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by dissonant on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:38:33 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Google (none / 0) (#72)
by b1t r0t on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:30:04 AM EST

Just google for "japan christmas chicken kentucky".

In fact, it turned up something that makes this whole article redundant.

-- Indymedia: the fanfiction.net of journalism.
[ Parent ]

Wow! (4.09 / 11) (#28)
by John Milton on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 01:30:02 PM EST

It's hard to believe that this could elicit such rabid response when the author even admits that For others it is the simple thought that it is better to give than to receive, or even "Home is where the heart is."

You know you're in the presence of some bitter geeks when you say Merry Christmas and they say Fuck You! By the way, are Christian authors not supposed to reference their faith. Is being Christian on kuro5hin like being gay?


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


On a different note (4.50 / 4) (#29)
by John Milton on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 01:34:44 PM EST

Kurisumasu is obviously just a phonetic work-alike for Christmas, but does it have any meaning in Japanese?


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
"Christ Exists" - [nt] (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by SaintPort on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 01:36:43 PM EST



--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
Not at all (4.66 / 3) (#37)
by Torako on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:00:13 PM EST

The Japanese work kurisumasu is written in the Katakana syllable system, which means it was directly imported from another language, that is English in this case.

The word itself doesn't have any native Japanese meaning at all, even though "sumasu" is a verb that roughly means "to do" or "to play", as in "supo-tsu o sumasu" ("I play sports").

"Kuri" as a native Japanese words means "chestnut". Even if you wanted to have the (bogus) meaning "to play chestnuts" you would still have to add the object particle "o" in between the two words. And of course, those words would be written in Hiragana, which is the syllable alphabet for native Japanese words.

[ Parent ]

maybe i just watch too much dbz (none / 0) (#43)
by biggs on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:34:48 PM EST

but i thought chestnut was kuririn

--
"Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox
[ Parent ]
Why yes... (none / 0) (#116)
by damien on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 07:27:40 PM EST

Yep, you watch too much DBZ.  Beware linguistic knowledge gained from foreign cartoons, lest you find yourself talking like Bugs Bunny.

I'm going to bet that "Kuririn" is a female character's name; ~rin is sometimes tacked onto female names to make them sound more cutesy.

-Damien

[ Parent ]

oh hm well (none / 0) (#120)
by biggs on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 11:53:37 AM EST

kuririn is a male character... but he is kinda cutsey.

--
"Rockin my 'hell I made it' wetsuit stitch so I can swim in elevators crazy wet through piss" -Cannibal Ox
[ Parent ]
Almost correct (5.00 / 3) (#53)
by thekim on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:11:09 PM EST

The verb for "to do; to play" in its polite form is "shimasu". The plain form is "suru". Thus the polite way of saying "I do sports" is "supo-tsu wo shimasu".
And it is not always necessary to add the wo-particle. Although not adding it would make the sentence far less polite.
But I agree with you on the rest.

--
Iie. Nandemonai.
[ Parent ]
Missing something? (4.00 / 4) (#34)
by Otto Surly on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 02:35:31 PM EST

Is being Christian on kuro5hin like being gay

...around Christians? I could only hope for such justice.

Sorry, cheap shot, couldn't resist, many Christians aren't intolerant assholes, etc., etc.



--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
nah (3.25 / 4) (#35)
by xriso on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 02:38:47 PM EST

Gays are allowed to be much more open on K5.
--
*** Quits: xriso:#kuro5hin (Forever)
[ Parent ]
Nope. On k5 being gay is cool. (3.40 / 10) (#38)
by porkchop_d_clown on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:03:20 PM EST

Christians, on the other hand are to be taken out back and beaten for not tolerating a diversity of opinions.


--
Once one sock is sucked, the other sock will remain forever unsucked.


[ Parent ]

Dis for dat (4.14 / 7) (#41)
by epepke on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:16:04 PM EST

It seems to me likely that the strength of the response is a direct result of the dissing in the last paragraph.

I'm not a Christian either, and I'm usually the first to point out that Chrstmas is only a weakly Christian holiday, but come on, people--the Mithraists and various other peoples don't hold a copyright on the idea. It just makes sense to have a big feast on or around the winter solstice.

However, the dissing got me a bit too. It's cheap and easy to put down "commercialism" when your belly is full. The Japanese remember serious starvation and a hideously insane military campaign which they lost, and they still live on a way overcrowded and polluted island with nowhere near enough natural resources (Japanese forests are seriously endangered because of disposable chopsticks). The only reason they're doing reasonably well now is that they have managed to adopt Western commercialism and get it down pat. Why shouldn't they celebrate commercialism?


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
Fair enough (5.00 / 3) (#42)
by John Milton on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:32:21 PM EST

I'm not real big on the capitalism is evil bandwagon, so I'll accept that. Personally I think of commercialism, in the negative sense, as the inability to retain happiness over our possessions. In other words, it's when you spend today because you desire, but your joy never brings any calmness for thought of what you might have gotten tomorrow. The joy is gone when there is no rest to desire.

Personally, I'm quite prejudice toward Christmas. I love buying people gifts that they truly enjoy, and I'll spend hours searching for that perfect one. I like seeing people happy to know that not only did I care, but that I took the time to really find what they want. That's what's great about Christmas to me. You get to show people you care.


"When we consider that woman are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should Treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit." -Elizabeth Cady Stanton


[ Parent ]
That's fine (4.00 / 3) (#45)
by epepke on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:44:41 PM EST

That's fine, and I happen to have considerable sympathy for those values. But those values come from and make sense within a particular cultural context, and it's inappropriate blithely to dismiss what goes on in a different culture as without "spirit." Maybe they are; maybe they aren't; but it requires more analysis. I happen to live in a country where people are so well fed that, not only does obesity cause more health problems than smoking, alcohol, drugs, and driving combined, but people actually spend extra money to get foods with reduced nutritional content. And I left a city (Atlanta) because it seemed to me too crassly commercial and sociopathic. But that's the culture I live in.


The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


[ Parent ]
I would LOVE... (none / 0) (#110)
by Josh A on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 12:19:07 PM EST

...to see some sources to back up this statement:

I happen to live in a country where people are so well fed that, not only does obesity cause more health problems than smoking, alcohol, drugs, and driving combined

Especially any that can provide more than mere correlation between "obesity" and health problems. But, if you don't have any like that, the others will do.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Worse than being Gay (4.25 / 4) (#70)
by opendna on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 11:11:40 PM EST

<rant>
I've never met a gay who told me I was going to hell, that I should be killed because of who I am, or tried to convert me.

With gays they can say "I'm gay" and I can reply "I'm straight" and we can move on to more interesting topics. With christians they say "I'm a christian" and when I say "I'm not" they frequently say "I think people who don't believe in Jesus are immoral, souless monsters" or "I can change that."
</rant>

What? Yes, some jerk's been pushing his kinky religion on me at work again.


[ Parent ]

I don't know about you... (5.00 / 1) (#74)
by jjayson on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:49:25 AM EST

but I've met gay boys that when I've said "I'm straight", they've said, "I can change that."
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
You must be unusually sexy (none / 0) (#88)
by Otto Surly on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:04:18 PM EST

I know where you can go.

--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
"You must be unusually sexy" not at all (none / 0) (#98)
by jjayson on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 08:51:58 PM EST

I look about like the guy in the comic: short, bald, and fat.
_______
Smile =)
* bt krav magas kitten THE FUCK UP
<bt> Eat Kung Jew, bitch.

[ Parent ]
So then we're agreed... (none / 0) (#99)
by Otto Surly on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 09:59:02 PM EST

...you are unusually sexy. About that barn...?

(Er, perhaps I should mention something at this point.)



--
I can't wait to see The Two Towers. Man, that Legolas chick is hot.
[ Parent ]
I hate to say it... (5.00 / 1) (#89)
by mberteig on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:06:56 PM EST

...but you just have been lucky/unlucky. I've met plenty of gay people who are as you describe, but I've also met a substantial number who are very actively converting/prosyletizing/pressuring others to be gay (Hmm... is it a choice or isn't it?). And similarly, I've met many many Christians who wouldn't even think of pushing their faith on someone and a smaller number who are actively converting/prosyletizing/pressuring others to be Christian. I would wager that in almost any group of people, there are going to be a majority who do not actively seek converts, and a minority who do. Just look to sports? I've seen fights between people who are religious about a sports team - that's pretty screwed up. And it certainly points out to the fallacy of your generalization.




Agile Advice - How and Why to Work Agile
[ Parent ]
apparently (5.00 / 1) (#105)
by auraslip on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 07:29:48 AM EST

You've never been in prison.
wink wink

124
[ Parent ]
Not all Christians... (5.00 / 1) (#114)
by m42gal on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 05:22:28 PM EST

...want to shove it down your throat. Some of us perfer to let our lives show the meaning of Christianity and let you make up your own mind.

St.
[ Parent ]

Everybody sing along... (1.91 / 12) (#31)
by buck on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 02:22:04 PM EST

HEY there Mr. Shintoist, Merry fucking Christmas.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah holiday wishes.
You may not know it, but it's Jesus' birthday.
So get off your oriental ass, and fucking celebrate.

-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
Missing line (1.20 / 5) (#47)
by marx on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 05:07:21 PM EST

The missing line is:

God is gonna kick your ass you infidelic pagan scum

I think you mixed up some verses too, but your version sounds better.

Join me in the War on Torture: help eradicate torture from the world by holding torturers accountable.
[ Parent ]

Yep (1.00 / 3) (#71)
by buck on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 12:13:29 AM EST

I should have bought the South Park Christmas CD.

-----
“You, on the other hand, just spew forth your mental phlegmwads all over the place and don't have the goddamned courtesy to throw us a tissue afterwards.” -- kitten
[ Parent ]
"Kurisumasu by myself this year." (nt) (none / 0) (#111)
by ethereal on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 01:37:34 PM EST


--

Stand up for your right to not believe: Americans United for Separation of Church and State
[ Parent ]

Note to all the pedantic curmudgeons (2.66 / 6) (#39)
by cr8dle2grave on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 03:07:25 PM EST

The etymological fallacy applies as much to the semantics of holidays as it does to words.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


By that logic... (none / 0) (#66)
by kwertii on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 09:20:50 PM EST

..one could make a quite convincing case that Christmas is a celebration of consumerism in all its glory, and has nothing to do with religion.

Are you addressing the Christmas-is-about-Jesus-not-Santa people, or the Christmas-is-about-paganism people? It seems both are pretty far from the current meaning of Christmas.




----
"He lives most gaily who knows best how to deceive himself." --Fyodor Dostoyevsky

[ Parent ]
Indeed! (none / 0) (#79)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 03:26:16 AM EST

It seems both are pretty far from the current meaning of Christmas.

Correct.

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Incorrect (none / 0) (#93)
by Shovas on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 03:31:39 PM EST

But then you'd have to explain how one or the other are "far away from the meaning of Christmas," and that might take effort. :)

For what it's worth: Pagan traditions, Schmagan Schraditions. The traditions employed in "traditional" Christian Christmases are a part of God's Creation. At the very least, they're very neutral in the cultural context. Decorating a tree was no doubt something practiced for festivals in a pagan culture. I couldn't care less when what it means today is a glorification of God. And when it's used for outreach purposes, all the better. Use what's the familiar to culture and bring them away from their previous ways while retaining their "good" traditional ways.
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[ Parent ]
Sorta (none / 0) (#95)
by cr8dle2grave on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 04:54:44 PM EST

For what it's worth: Pagan traditions, Schmagan Schraditions. The traditions employed in "traditional" Christian Christmases are a part of God's Creation. At the very least, they're very neutral in the cultural context. Decorating a tree was no doubt something practiced for festivals in a pagan culture. I couldn't care less when what it means today is a glorification of God. And when it's used for outreach purposes, all the better. Use what's the familiar to culture and bring them away from their previous ways while retaining their "good" traditional ways.

All of the above is perfectly valid when speaking from within the Christian tradition, but my point was that there exists no context independent meaning of either the word Christmas or the holiday festivities associated with it such that it is possible to speak of a true meaning of Christmas; one which would hold across all possible contexts. The Mithraic and pre-Christian Germanic origins of superficial elements included in the traditional Christian celebration of Christmas have little substantive affect upon your understanding of the holiday and its meaning. Likewise, the traditional Christian celebration of Christmas need not have any substantive affect upon the wholly secular consummerist orgy that is prevalent in America and Europe (not to mention the further derivative Kurisumau, as practiced in Japan).

The history of "Christmas" is an interesting story, but it does not provide the basis for determining its true meaning.    

---
Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


[ Parent ]
Well well (4.66 / 6) (#48)
by tetsuwan on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 05:14:57 PM EST

I liked this article because:

1. It is accurate.

I've spent two Christmases (or Jul ... ) in Japan, the first one in a host family which gave me a lot of presents because they thought they were supposed to, the second I had a dinner with a friend (I took Christmas Eve off from my lab).

2. Everyone that knows something about Japan can relate to this.

I disliked the ending. This article would have had a much bigger chance being voted up without the rant in the end. However, I do think it's appropriate to mention that Christmas is not a very special holiday in Japan and nobody acts differently that day. So in a sense, the special feeling is gone.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance

How did you deal with.. (5.00 / 1) (#80)
by Craevenwulfe on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 03:50:30 AM EST

getting all the presents and obviously not having comparable gifts.

[ Parent ]
Awareness of Japanese culture. (none / 0) (#115)
by static on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 06:17:39 PM EST

It must be the first time I read something about Japan written for a non-Japanese audience and I noticed people not understanding some of it. Why? Because I know something about Japanese culture.

Even "Kurisumasu" I immediately recognized and didn't give it much thought - but if you haven't tried to learn to speak or read Japanese it really won't make sense.

Wade.


[ Parent ]

Hacker spelling, US spelling etc (none / 0) (#121)
by tetsuwan on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 12:35:46 PM EST

People on k5 at large are familiar with different ways of spelling English, so they should figure it out and not complain.

But you're right, once you've been inside for a while it becomes very hard to remember what it looked like from the outside. What does, for example, English sound like? I had an idea of that as a kid, but no longer.

Japanese? No, I don't know what it sounds like.

Kaaru

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Interesting at first (4.66 / 6) (#57)
by thekim on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 07:41:58 PM EST

Very interesting piece on Japan even though it could have been a few paragraphs longer.

But your last paragraph doesn't even seem to be written by the same person. It is far too you and America centric.

Christmas spirit is a personal thing. For some it is gathering the family and celebrating the birth of Jesus (wheter(sp?) he was or wasn't born around Christmas time I'm not going to speculate about), for others it is gathering friends and family and having a nice time together. And for others it means something else, whatever makes them happy. And in Japan they have their kind of Christmas spirit.

Which means that the stripping of the religious side of Christmas won't be the end of it. To take an example. In my family we don't believe in any kind of religion. And yet we have ourselves some jolly nice Christmases. And the main day isn't even December 25th, as we live in Sweden and give presents on the 24th.

Thus. If you want to celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus. Please do. If others wants to celebrate it on other grounds. Please let them. But do try to make one thing the common factor of all Christmases. Be happy and make others happy. Merry Christmas!

--
Iie. Nandemonai.

Those heathen Japanese (3.55 / 9) (#65)
by Lai Lai Boy on Tue Dec 03, 2002 at 09:18:13 PM EST

If I may:  

I call bullshit.  So it's not about religion.  Whoop-dee-doo.  For my Japanese gf, it's a time for couples.

Which frankly, makes it as worthwhile as it's American equivalent.  These value judgements are really just pretty stupid.  

Damn those Japanese for taking a holiday they got during occupation and having fun with it.  As a non-Christian American I certainly enjoy Christmas the same way the Japanese do; good food, poor TV, and the company of others.

-1 for being an arrogant American.

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

yes, well, but... (4.50 / 2) (#86)
by llimllib on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 09:11:14 AM EST

Damn those Japanese for taking a holiday they got during occupation and having fun with it

Where exactly does he suggest that we "damn the Japanese"? He spends the first part (up to the last paragraph) of the article describing the christmas celebration of the japanese and how it relates to other imported holidays there, then gives a very brief summary of his opinion of said holiday. In this opinion, nowhere does he suggest that the japanese celebration is worthless, only that it's missing something for him.


Peace.
[ Parent ]
WHERE do you folks GET this from? (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by Josh A on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 10:28:12 AM EST

See my comment here.

What's with people projecting their own judgments onto this article?

As a non-Christian American I certainly enjoy Christmas the same way the Japanese do; good food, poor TV, and the company of others.

The author characterizes Christmas in Japan as "nothing more than a year-end shopping spree"... I don't know if that's accurate, having never spent the holiday there, but the author is merely making an observation from one point of view and then telling us how s/he's affected personally by it. There's no judgment here, except maybe yours.

I'm sure many would agree that although Christmas in America includes a "year-end shopping spree" it is more than that. Some may not feel that way, and that's fine. But if that's you, why judge the author in the same way you feel you have been judged?

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
Just to broaden the view on Japanese Christmas (none / 0) (#113)
by thekim on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 04:39:27 PM EST

Although many Japanese families sure have adapted the western way of spending like crazy for Christmas many have not. As the author pointed out, Christmas cake and dating is a major part of the Japanese Christmas. And where I lived, in a rural area, we didn't hardly even nod at Christmas. All we did was to have a nice dinner and finish it of with Christmas cake. That aside, it was just like any other day.

--
Iie. Nandemonai.
[ Parent ]
and the view on Xmas here (none / 0) (#123)
by Josh A on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 11:11:16 PM EST

That aside, it was just like any other day.

And Xmas is much more than a day here... we talk about "the holiday season" and "the reason for the season"... so not only are we talking about other holidays, we're also talking about a timeframe lasting much longer than a day or so.

It's only the first week of December and already people are being nicer to each other on the road here, and whistling carols in the grocery store.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
That's pretty much like here in Sweden [nt] (none / 0) (#128)
by thekim on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 11:41:59 AM EST



--
Iie. Nandemonai.
[ Parent ]
Lucky Swedes :) (none / 0) (#129)
by Josh A on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 08:18:21 PM EST

Perhaps the author should move to Sweden.

---
Thank God for Canada, if only because they annoy the Republicans so much. – Blarney


[ Parent ]
He's always welcome :) [nt] (none / 0) (#133)
by thekim on Mon Dec 09, 2002 at 04:29:49 PM EST



--
Iie. Nandemonai.
[ Parent ]
Chocolate companies ... (4.50 / 2) (#75)
by medusa on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:03:14 AM EST

This holiday was actually introduced and popularized in Japan by chocolate companies as a day when girls give chocolates to their boyfriends -- it mutated in truly Japanese style into a ritual where women are forced by custom and obligation to give chocolates to every man with whom they work, especially their bosses. The chocolate companies then invented a whole new holiday called "White Day" on March 14th for men to return the favor to women. A truly win-win situation for the chocolate companies

Out of curiosity, how, in practice, did the chocolate companies manage to brainwash a specific percentage-half of the population to buy chocolates on V-day, and then "white"-wash the other half later on? I'd love to add a new entry to my mind-control techniques.



Using the same techniques (none / 0) (#103)
by Skywise on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 01:08:06 AM EST

the anti-tobacco groups did to counter the same techniques used by the tobacco industry...

(Though the tobacco industry had nicotine on their side...)

[ Parent ]

Yeah, but ... (none / 0) (#104)
by medusa on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 01:49:28 AM EST

in this case the techniques were used only by one agent, the chocolate companies.  I've seen religious riots fomented by one agent, by antagonizing them; but to do this on girls and boys of Japan is kinda illogically funny.

[ Parent ]
No it's really simple... (none / 0) (#107)
by Skywise on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 10:21:29 AM EST

Otherwise, why do you think there are so many religions?
This is practiced by religious people, advertisers, politicians, and in some cases even scientists alike.
1> Pick a dividing topic.
2> Separate groups of people into those pro and con with the topic.
3> Promote those who agreed with your side of the topic.
4> Demonize those who disagree with your side of the topic.

See Dr. Seuss:  "The Sneetches"


[ Parent ]

oh heavens (none / 0) (#126)
by adequate nathan on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 08:00:00 AM EST

Can you kurobots not stop kicking at religion, even when it's completely off-topic? Let anyone mention orbiting mind-control lasers, and sure enough, someone will say, "Yeah, just like the CHURCH!!! Haw haw haw!!!"

Nathan
"For me -- ugghhh, arrgghh."
-Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, in Frank magazine, Jan. 20th 2003

Join the petition: Rusty! Make dumped stories & discussion public!
[ Parent ]

It's irrational. (none / 0) (#127)
by tkatchev on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 10:13:55 AM EST

Mentioning religion, in any context whatsoever, is like being prodded with a sharp stick for some people.

   -- Signed, Lev Andropoff, cosmonaut.
[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#130)
by Skywise on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 10:48:06 PM EST

I'm very pro-religion.  But I'm also on my guard as there are too many charlatans out there who use religion for financial gain, or to establish control over the weak-minded.

[ Parent ]
Re: Chocolate companies... (none / 0) (#117)
by damien on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 07:34:56 PM EST

Out of curiosity, how, in practice, did the chocolate companies manage to brainwash a specific percentage-half of the population to buy chocolates on V-day, and then "white"-wash the other half later on? I'd love to add a new entry to my mind-control techniques.

Same way the diamond companies managed to brainwash most of the western world (and Japan, for that matter) into believing that you MUST have a diamond wedding ring worth two months of your salary.  Say it loud, say it often, pay people to say it in movies.

Oh, and you don't need to convince the women that they need to buy chocolate for the men, or vice-versa.  You need to convince people that they're supposed to GET chocolate.  "You didn't get me chocolate, honey?  I thought you cared for me!"

-Damien

[ Parent ]

THREE months worth of salary, isn't? (none / 0) (#122)
by tetsuwan on Fri Dec 06, 2002 at 12:53:09 PM EST

The whole diamond ring halabalo is mainly an American custom, I would say. I'm not sure about all of Europe, but where I come from solid gold is enough. There's no etiquette for what it should cost.

As for brain washing, this is a technique that can work with substantial effort and good timing. Its exact mechanics are a topic worthy of research.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

thats some messed up shit (1.20 / 15) (#77)
by turmeric on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 01:42:16 AM EST

oh well. i guess you are bound to be pretty screwy after fascist militarists take over, make you murder and rape a few million people, and then your ass gets bombed into oblivion by horrible new superweapons.

Despite the rewrite (1.00 / 3) (#96)
by Lai Lai Boy on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 05:25:11 PM EST

I wish I could vote -1 again

[Posted from Mozilla Firebird]

Original == True? (4.66 / 3) (#101)
by deadcow on Wed Dec 04, 2002 at 11:46:51 PM EST

There's been a bit of talk about the true meaning of Christmas in America and Japan. So it's been imported by Japan, and "made" into "the perfect commercial holiday." OK. So what is Christmas in America BUT commercial? It's the biggest retail season of the year. Correct me if i'm wrong, but don't American consumers spend more money in Nov-Dec than they do during the rest of the entire year?

It appears to me, then, that Japan has "copied" the holiday far more accurately than it should have. Christmas Shmristmis. All this gift-giving and money spending and goodwill toward man...it really began far before Christ was born, perhaps with the birth of Mithra the sun god. It was only adapted to the Christian religion around 366AD(due to lobbying by the cake and gravy industry, no doubt) by Emperor Constantine.
Click -here- for more interesting details about the birth of Christ/Mithra.

History... (4.00 / 1) (#102)
by Skywise on Thu Dec 05, 2002 at 01:05:27 AM EST

Christmas has always been somewhat commercialized ever since the advent (heh) of department stores and such.

Alot of the removal of the religion aspect comes from your friendly neighborhood ACLU's removing nativity scenes from public townhall Christmas displays, and the overall PC'ness of removing it from public school plays as well.

Trust me on these two points:

A> CHRISTIANS are celebrating it as a religious holiday.

B> You're much happier this way.

[ Parent ]

A) Ok. Maybe. B) Happier? (none / 0) (#124)
by deadcow on Sat Dec 07, 2002 at 01:30:25 AM EST

Happier and alot poorer, really. ...Maybe not even that much happier. I don't really get many gifts. And usually none that I like. I'm a big scrooge, I am. But I give good gifts!

And I would think that the Christians you mentioned might object to the blatant commercialization of Christmas on the grounds that it detracts from the spirit of the holiday...especially because it's advertised almost exclusively without mention of Christ and all that good stuff. It's mostly pictures of santa and the great gifts that people can buy other people and the "giving spirit" and other non-denominational messages. That way, everyone can buy gifts, not just Christians.



[ Parent ]

Actually you're wrong about that... (none / 0) (#131)
by Skywise on Sun Dec 08, 2002 at 10:58:10 PM EST

There are a great many Christians who are more than happy to have the "spirit" of the season go out more than the dogma associated with it. (They're called Unitarians... ;>) That way nobody gets left out of the fun but still propels Jesus' message.  It was that philosophy that allowed many of the nativity scenes to be taken off of the government property.  (Yeah, the ACLU likes to talk all high and mighty about the 1st amendment, but it was really the principles of openness that first got this ball rolling)

Which is kinda funny when you consider that Kwanzaa was developed to be a non-white, but inclusive, winter holiday... but only serves to be divisive, because it's NOT Christmas.  (On that note, I wonder if we'll see a Kwanzaa article on K5?)

[ Parent ]

OK (none / 0) (#134)
by vrai on Tue Dec 10, 2002 at 11:17:42 AM EST

What in $DEITY'S name is Kwanzaa? It sounds like some alien thing from Star Trek.

[ Parent ]
Is Christmas/Noel/Natale... ours anyway? (5.00 / 2) (#132)
by Krankor on Mon Dec 09, 2002 at 08:19:51 AM EST

Right, so palestinian jewish chap is born in Bethlehem on the way to the roman census bureau.

As a result we decorate our houses in nordic norwegian style with tons of things found normaly near the artic circle.  On top of that, we in southern europe add local traditional stuff.

We all do what we want. We hate turkey and gravy as we think Noel should be about good time not bland mediocre food so we do a Russian style dinner with blinis, caviar, salmon, all the expensive stuff and the finest wines are served.  Here fresh live oysters, here Sauterne... Mmmm... The good life.

And then I read this thing about North American centrism definition of Xmas and how does Japan's own expression of it is different.

Lemme ask ya, what are we supposed to do for Xmas in fact?  I mean, in the absolute.  Middle East style to preserve the historical setup?  Sure, I love Lebanese food, why not.  

You see there is no point of reference that makes US xmas more valid than a Belgium or the old Stalinian "Father Frost" one or any other interpretations.  They are all wrong as there is nothing "of Nazareth" in it, but they are right re-interpretation in your local culture.

This said, having grown up in the US, the worst thing there is is 30 days of those "Kchng-kching-kching" damned cymbals from "jingle bells" that play on every speakers of every radio or shopping mall PA system non-stop.  Xmas in the US is the most aggravating aural experience ever.  Anything is a "xmas" special , even those tampons reduced by 20c at the local pharmacy. Its all a huge marketing thing that gets more and more on your nerves as you grow old.

And like someone wrote here, it's also the time for the worst TV programing ever:  Star Wars Xmas Special?  Santa Claus Conquers the Martian?  Jack Frost?  

I think the explanation is that the Earth enters a part of it's path around the sun where a cloud of higly ionized particules.  Exactly where the Earth stands in 3d space at around 20 to 30th of december.  And there we all go mental in the West thinking that the world (Cairo, Peking, Jerusalem, Oman, Ankara....) all suddently convert to christianism and all become a bunch of hippies smoking grass.

So when I see Japanese intergrating xmas but not taking it seriously, I seriously think about enquiring for an immigration visa as I am reassured that at least a few pockets of hummanity hasn't lost their trolley.  At least they are honnest and candid in their approach.  Sure they also put nordic thingies with frost and fake snow like we do (yaks and conifers in Israel?), but at least they don't buy 400 lightbulbs to turn their suburbian homes into a festival of kitsh that makes your philipino bordellos street look like a dark alley by comparison.

Let's face it, wherever you go, xmas is kitch.

Kurisumasu in Japan | 135 comments (87 topical, 48 editorial, 0 hidden)
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