Christmas is my most exciting time of the year! Even more exciting than my birthday 😉 This year, we again celebrated Christmas here in Tokyo. By combining the traditions my husband and I grew up with, putting some twists of our own, we were able make our own traditions – Tokyo style!
1. Advent Calendar
It was my husband who introduced me to advent calendars when we first went to Germany in 2009. Since they were kids, their parents give each child an advent calendar beginning December. Each day, they would open one window until the eve of Christmas. Inside could be a candy, chocolate, or small toy.
Here in Japan, advent calendars are now starting to become a popular. However they are a bit expensive since you can only buy them at international shops or imported sections of the supermarkets. And most of them only have chocolates inside.
To make it more exciting, I made own advent calendars for my husband and our neighbors’ kids. I like it best when my hands get busy designing the small packages and putting candies, chocolates, or small toys inside each packages.
2. Christmas Decorations
For three years now, I try to create a holiday vibe inside our home. And each year, I also try to add something new so that it will not be monotonous and boring. For this year, I was fortunate to find some spruce stems from our usual flower shop. Real Christmas trees are very expensive here so we opted to have a plastic one. With the spruce stems, I was able to create a small fresh Christmas tree.
As Catholics, Christmas is incomplete without a nativity. The scene of Jesus Christ being borne in a stable is an important reminder why we have this celebration. It has been a challenge for me to have one this year. Living in a country where Christmas means a fancy dinner date for couples or a KFC chicken for dinner, finding a nativity is like a needle in a haystack. We found some small ones at the Christmas market in Roppongi. However, it felt like they were not the right ones. We were lucky that my husband’s parents sent us a perfect set from Germany 🙂
3. Christmas Cake
When I was a child, we know it is holiday season when our house starts to be filled with banana cake smell. Back then, my mom would bake banana cakes as gifts for family and friends. This is our family’s version of fruit cake.
We still continue this tradition here in Tokyo. But aside from the cake, we also give calendars using pictures of my Ikebana arrangements.
4. Special Christmas Dinner
Since we both miss my father-in-law’s roasted goose back in Hamm, we tried to recreate the dish here in Tokyo. However, a whole goose is difficult to find except maybe if I can catch one from the park or zoo. Same as last year, I went to Ameyokocho to buy duck from my “underground” Chinese friends. Underground because they sell dry and wet good at the basement of Ameyokocho market.
I am still missing puto bumbong or steamed purple rice after the mid-morning mass and the big nativities similar to those in Cologne Cathedral. But who knows maybe next year we will have one! Happy holidays everyone!!!