Shinto and Christmas

Shinto and Christmas

Since my standard cycle for these posts has one falling on Christmas Day, and since I write and schedule them in advance (the secret is out!), I though I would write about the connection between Shinto and Christmas.

There isn’t one.

Merry Christmas!

…OK. A bit more detail, because this is more interesting than that might suggest.

Japanese culture as a whole is very into Christmas. It isn’t a day off work or school, of course, but there are decorations in the shops, and anywhere that sells cakes sells Christmas cakes, normally very light sponge, fresh cream, and strawberries. Christmas Eve is particularly for romantic couples, even married ones. And Kentucky Fried Chicken is traditional Christmas dinner, to the point that you have to make a reservation several weeks in advance if you want to get it on the day.

However, jinja do not generally have Christmas events.

I suspect that there are two reasons for this. One is that jinja are, on December 25th, very busy getting ready for hatsumōdë, and they do not want to add something else at that point.

The other reason may well be a feeling that Christmas is not Japanese, and therefore is not really appropriate for a jinja. Although Christmas is popular here, it is popular as a foreign import, and I suspect that a lot of Japanese people think that Americans eat KFC on Christmas Day as well. It is just possible that there is some concern about the fact that it is originally a Christian festival, but there is almost no hint of Christianity in Christmas as celebrated in Japan. (Other than by Japanese Christians, of course.)

That being said, there are 80,000 jinja in Japan. I would be rather surprised if at least one of them did not have some sort of Christmas event. Maybe, in the new year, I will be putting up posts about the Christmas events reported in Jinja Shinpō.

I have a Patreon, where people subscribe to receive in-depth essays on various aspects of Shinto, about once per month. If that sounds interesting to you, please take a look.

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