Is it really just five days more to go before Christmas? Tsukuba Center is already awash with Christmas lights and decors. Lately we also noticed that the malls have begun playing Christmas songs, songs that seem to add to the Christmasy ambiance as one goes shopping. Most restaurants we’ve visited lately also have proud displays of Christmas trees of various sizes, as well as different thingamabobs hanging on the wall. But here’s a curious thing: you’ll always find Christmas trees, Santas, reindeers, and other symbols of the season, but never any mangers. It seems as if any reference to the birth of Christ is either insignificant, or just bluntly omitted for the sake of not making the event appear overly religious in any way (and thus not offend anybody). I don’t know. I’ve never really thought of asking around why this is so.
Pick up any calendar here in Japan and you will find that the 25th is not in red. Yup, it’s not a holiday. When I first came here, this came as a shock. Until that time I’d always thought that Christmas is celebrated everywhere else. Instead, you’ll find that December 23, the Emperor’s birthday, IS a national holiday. So basically this means that if we want to spend Christmas Day as a holiday, we’ll have to take a leave from work. Bummer. That’s what we get for not going home this Christmas season! But well, there’s always next year. 😀
Do I sound so glum? Sorry. I just miss home. Christmas was one of the most memorable occasions in our family, back when my Dad was still alive. It’s just not the same anymore since he has been gone.
Anyway, I think Jose Mari Chan’s song aptly prescribes a solution for expats out there whose hearts are yearning to spend Christmas in the Philippines:
Let’s sing “Merry Christmas
And a happy holiday”
This season, may we never forget
The love we have for Jesus
Let Him be the One to guide us
As another new year starts
And may the spirit of Christmas
Be always in our hearts
If the spirit of Christmas is always in our hearts, then we can celebrate Christmas wherever we are. Yeah, even here in Japan.