On sweet temptations and fast food

Reading time: 2 minutes

Christmas Eve is much beloved among Japanese families. But they do not celebrate it the way we might imagine. Take, for example, the food that is served. An American fast food giant has been offering the Japanese people drumsticks and wings for decades, and with plenty of success. And there is also a sweet follow-up: the Japanese strawberry cake.

French, American or actually Japanese?

Where this sweet delicacy comes from is a bit of a mystery. It is not clear whether it is of American or French origin. What is certain is that this strawberry cake was made for the Japanese palate. It is not found in this form anywhere else, and has a particularly fluffy texture that is entirely its own. Appropriately enough, strawberry season begins in winter in Japan. The berries go straight from greenhouse to the Ichigo cake. The first of its kind, by the way, was sold in 1922 at a shop called Fujiya. But its popularity did not take off until 1955 when refrigerators started to become widespread, and since then has been served on special occasions such as birthdays and Christmas. Many things are different there than on our side of the globe.

A slightly different Christmas

Speaking of different, Christmas in Japan, especially among young couples, is comparable to a second Valentine’s Day. Christmas, or the second Valentine’s Day, is free of religious ceremony, and couples split it into three stages. After an evening stroll through the ostentatious chains of lights strung throughout the many shopping areas, couples enjoy a romantic dinner and afterwards make themselves comfortable in a hotel. For anyone who wonders why that is, the answer is quite simple. Since the overwhelming majority of Japan is Buddhist, there is no church service and Christ’s birth is not really celebrated. Only 1% of the population is of Catholic faith and celebrates Christmas as we know it.

So… Merii Kurisumasu!


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