Nothing says Hallowe’en better, friends, than…Christmas!!

Tuesday night will be Hallowe’en. Yesterday afternoon, I stopped into a local shop to buy some mundane items (laundry detergent, alarm clock batteries, freezer bags) and was greeted by the tinkly tones of Deck the Halls. Last Friday, all around Osaka (nay, all over Japan), the department store Christmas lights were lit, and will stay lit until Christmas Eve. That’s the odd thing – for all that lead-up, there is no Christmas holiday here: only 1% of the population is Christian. So on Christmas Day, the New Year’s decorations go up and everybody goes to work. The halls – deck ’em.
I wonder if it’s the same back home yet? Probably, but I’m afraid to ask. Christmas was never even thought about until December 1st when I was a child – I seem to remember watching on TV the Eaton’s Santa Claus Parade (from Toronto) at around the same time Americans would be celebrating Thanksgiving and watching the Macy’s equivalent. Of course, our Thanksgiving was long-past by that time (2nd Monday of October in Canada), so the American one was as good a yardstick as any. At any rate, the (we believed) uncrossable barrier was November 11th, Remembrance Day – what store would be tacky enough to have Santa out front while we were remembering the war dead? Quite a few, as it eventually turned out. However, Hallowe’en is still a lucrative (the bottom line) celebration in North America, so what would be the point of starting Christmas before that? Well, I’m really just talking to myself, because sooner or later, someone will find one. I seem to recall reading (and will add a link if I remember where) that in London (where there is no Hallowe’en) department stores were already giving customers Christmas greetings in early October.
As for Japan, I’m flummoxed. Neither Christmas nor Hallowe’en has any direct relation to this more or less Confucian-Buddhist culture. In fact, I used to have to explain what Hallowe’en was to my students, and they would reply that they already had something similar (and quantum leaps less commercial), called Setsubun (節分, in February). Fifteen years later, Universal Studios Japan, on the outskirts of Osaka, starts its Hallowe’en shows in mid-September, and English teachers are expected to wear a dumb costume to work for a week or so, to celebrate “our” festival (of course, the British and Australian teachers especially love this). And now the Christmas trees and illumination (for some reason, the Japanese use the Italian word luminare) light up all the department stores and shopping centres every night from the end of October. For two whole months before Christmas. Granted, some of the displays are really beautiful (the one in front of the Kaiyukan Aquarium, which I saw advertised on the train yesterday, looks especially impressive). But two whole months before Christmas! Well, at least it’ll keep me out of the shops.

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2 Responses to Nothing says Hallowe’en better, friends, than…Christmas!!

  1. melodymcfarland says:

    There are Christmas decorations up all over the place here. Some have been displayed for weeks already. I was so disappointed when I got here last year and saw all of the Halloween hoopla. What a disappointment. And then the Christmas stuff. “Have healthy Christmas” I think I saw written somewhere last year. Right. Try telling that to Americans.

  2. Trouserpress says:

    Xmas decorations will have gone up in early October in most British shopping centres with Oxford Street in London leading the way. This year, both Selfidges and Harrods opened Christmas deparments in … wait for it … August.

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