Christmas Bells Archives

Understanding Christmas in Japan Traditions

Many Christmas in Japan traditions exist, and they are celebrated throughout much of that country. Here are a few examples of Japanese culture at work.

Christmas Greetings:

Christmas in Japan Traditions

photo by Danny Choo

Christmas Greetings are large aspects of the Japanese culture. Here are a few different forms of traditional Japanese Christmas greetings:

  • Merry Christmas:
    • A popular Christmas greeting, at least for those who celebrate Christmas in Japan, is “Meri Kurisumasu,” which means Merry Christmas. This is what they wish each other on Christmas Eve, which is when the people of Japan celebrate Christmas, instead of on December 25th.
  • Different Ways to say Happy New Year:
    • Of course, how we wish each other a happy new year around Christmas time also differs for the Japanese. There are a few different ways to wish someone a happy new year in Japan. You could say, “Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu,” or some other form of popular greeting.

Christmas Gifts

Christmas in Japan Traditions 2

photo by jewell willett

Another popular tradition among a variety of cultures is the giving of xmas gifts. Japan is no exception to this famous tradition either. Here is how they do things in Japan:

  • Receiving the Presents:
    • Christmas presents are not necessarily given by family members. In America, we believe in Santa Clause, who gives the children presents. In Japan, Santa is known as “Hotei-osho,” who is basically a Buddhist monk equal to Santa.
  • Presents for Loved Ones:
    • If a couple is together, the man typically buys the woman in his life something romantic like a teddy bear, flowers, a scarf, a ring, or other types of jewelry. Friends also exchange greeting cards during Christmas.

Christmas Cards

People do give each other Christmas cards in Japan, although these are mostly exchanged among friends. Typical Christmas card messages consist of things like Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and other elements of that nature. They are quite similar to American Christmas cards.

Christmas Symbols

Christmas in Japan Traditions 3

photo by durian

Perhaps the most important Christmas symbol is Hotei-Osho, the Japanese Equivalent of Santa Clause. However, there are a few other Christmas symbols that hold meaning to the Japanese people around Christmas time:

  • Artificial Christmas Trees:
    • For decoration, the Japanese also put an artificial Christmas tree in their home to add a festive element to the season.
  • Nativity:
    • For people who believe in Jesus, the Japanese do tell the story of the Nativity. This is widely recognized, at least by some people, just like in America.

Christmas in Japan traditions are an important part of the holiday season, and are very similar to the Christmas traditions celebrated in all parts of the world.

Do You Hear the Christmas Bells?

There is no Christmas without Christmas bells. And around this time of the year, they are about everywhere you go. It is the tradition in most Catholic countries that the church bells ring at all times during the Christmas season. From early in the morning to late at night, it chime having its own meaning.

In the US and other cultures where the Christmas tradition relies heavily on consumerism, we can hear the jingle bells and sleigh bells in shopping malls, supermarkets, offices, restaurants, etc. The concept is still there though. Christmas rings Christmas bells.

The “bell” has also become such an idiosyncratic image of the winter season. We see bells on Christmas cards, candy, ornaments and decorations, bells specifically designed to be put up on the Christmas tree.

There is a history behind the importance of Christmas bells. Bells were used many years ago to “scare away” the bad evil souls that would populate villages at night. Around the autumn and winter time, villagers were given the bells so they could make as much noise as possible, thus scaring the bad souls away. Over the years and after so much bell ringing, people started to associate the noise with good things happening like weddings or christenings. Obviously, the birth of Christ was the most celebrated birth and therefore when bells ring the most.

Christmas bells were also seen as an affordable musical instrument. Instruments were expensive and so people used bells when singing Christmas carols and would also take them to church. Then came Santa Klaus, and all his reindeers would wear tiny little bells called “Christmas jingle bells”. The noise would ward Santa of any danger and also make it to go through the snow.

Sleigh bells are really popular every year, you can buy packs of 50 to 1000 bells starting at around 30$. These bells are fantastic to use as Christmas ornaments, around doors and Christmas wreaths. They are a wonderful symbol of this time of the year, and the sound the produce is just charming and very evocative.

You can also look for Christmas bells lyrics online and send them as a ringtone to people over the holiday season. It is an inexpensive and great way of sending your Christmas greetings this year if you find yourself having to write too many cards!

Bells are one of the most iconic symbols of Christmas and everyone recognizes their universal sound. They are magical, delightful, and have become over the years an essential part of the Christmas tradition.