Dec 15, 2018

Celebrating Christmas with your Japanese partner and at home

For us Germans, Christmas is one of the biggest events of the year. In Japan Christmas is not celebrated traditionally. Nowadays it is mostly used for marketing purposes to sell limited Christmas editions of goods or food, but some families, especially those with small children, celebrate Christmas as well. My husband told me that when he was little his mother would buy a Christmas cake for him and his brother and they would get presents. A Japanese Christmas cake is, in general, a strawberry shortcake with Christmas decorations on top.  

Celebrating Christmas with your Japanese partner and at home photo

Christmas cakes available for reservation at a department store

Once the children get older Christmas becomes more a couple event and you spend it with your partner going out for a romantic date. Young Japanese girls tend to obsess about this and those with no boyfriend try everything to find one until Christmas so that they do not have to spend it alone.

So, with me being German and my partner being Japanese, there is the issue of how to celebrate Christmas. The Japanese way? The German way? A mix of both?

If possible I usually take a long vacation in December so that I can spend Christmas and New Years with my family. When he can also take vacation my husband joins me and we celebrate Christmas at my parents’ house the German way. He was a little startled at how many presents we exchange at first but overall he seems to enjoy it, especially the food. He once told me that if it wasn’t for me he would have never experienced that celebrating Christmas as an adult can be fun. His family had stopped celebrating once their children grew older and since then Christmas was just a normal work day for him.

When my husband can’t make it I end up going to Germany alone, but I still want to celebrate Christmas with him. So we do a kind of early Christmas celebration on one of the December weekends. We buy a Christmas cake and will go somewhere nice for dinner. This way I can celebrate Christmas with my husband the Japanese way and with my family the German way, too.

This year we plan to go to Germany together, however, is still do not want to miss the Japanese Christmas cake so I think we will get one before we leave for Germany.

At first, we also exchanged presents with each other but after a few times we realized that we were only sending each other Amazon links of the things we wanted, so we figured it would be faster to just buy them ourselves.

How would you celebrate Christmas in an international marriage?



Hi, I’m Eli. I’m from Germany and moved to Japan a few years ago. I am a typical nerd and like collecting Pokémon merchandise.Follow me on twitter (@hannari_eri) for the latest nerd News from Tokyo. I also write a blog in German over here. https://lifeinjapanisstrange.wordpress.com/

1 Comment

  • helloalissa

    on Dec 20

    We don't do anything really special but try to fit in looking at the pretty illuminations and eating nice foods. I guess my family stopped exchanging gifts for Christmas once the kids grew up too.