Christmas is finally here! After months of waiting, it’s time to celebrate baby’s Hajimete no Kurisumasu (初めてのクリスマス/first Christmas). It’s a fantastic opportunity to dress up your kids in Santa suits and dresses, reindeer ears, and snowman themed anything. Japan already loves Christmas cake, so there’s tons of photo opportunity for baby and their first cake.
With a dog and a 10 month old who can already walk, we didn’t decorate the house; Instead, we took photos of the monster munching on Christmas cake and fried chicken. The Christmas photoshoot didn’t go as planned, but it’s all about the memories, right?
Christmas Photo 🎄👶🏼🎄👶🏼🎄👶🏼🎄👶🏼🎄 One of the few decent photos taken during our home shooting yesterday. I totally get why parents go to studios and I have mad respect for professional photographers- taking photos isn't as easy as you think it is, especially when dealing with babies!😭I wanted something for New Year's cards but I think I'll pass. 🎄 In other news, my little monster has been comfort nursing all day and waking up so many times at night. It's been really intense at home since I started back at work. Clingy baby and endless bickering. Even though it's just until March, I honestly wonder if we can make it! It's getting so rough. Come through 2018 and make it al better!
I never thought I’d be spending Christmas with a baby — this is uncharted territory! I remember my first Christmas with Kokuto 5 years ago, and our family of 2 is now a family of 4! Now I can’t protect him anymore. My mom accurately predicted that the monster would be walking around this time — and she is! While she’s not perfect and stumbles at lot, she’s really trying her best. Watch out, Kokuto!
Christmas in Japan
Christmas in Japan is a beautiful, but wonderfully commercialized event. You could say the same about Christmas in the West. After all, it seems like every year the decorations get put up earlier and earlier. At least in Japan, there’s no need to pretend that “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” The Japanese have taken out all Christian references of Christmas and made it something that people of all religions can enjoy. Which is fine… if you’re not Christian.
Just to be clear, Japan is not a Christian nation. Only 1.5% of the country is Christian, meaning there’s more registered foreigners in Japan than Japanese Christians! This topic is interesting to me because I recently wrapped up a translation project for a travel company and it touched a bit on the dark history of Christianity in Japan. I’d studied abroad at International Christian University and graduated from Sophia University, two of Japan’s private universities that happen to be Christian.
Sophia University, in particular, goes back to the times of the Spanish Jesuit priest, Saint Francis Xavier. He was successful in spreading Christianity when he first arrived in Japan in the 16th century. The travel project is centered on the Chugoku region of Japan, which is one area where Japanese Christians were exiled to under the last crackdown on Christianity in 1867. Between 30 and 40 Christians were sent to Tsuwano, a town in Shimane prefecture where they were coerced to convert to Shinto, the official religion of the Japanese state. Many of the exiled Christians died and there are several places in Tsuwano built in their honor.
Balancing Christianity and Shinto
My husband’s family is Shinto and I was raised Christian. I don’t see the harm in incorporating both teachings in baby’s childhood. I want to learn more so I can answer her questions, and I want her to be able to understand her culture, too. While Shinto translates as “the way of the gods (kami)”, it’s more of how to live in harmony with nature, by respecting everything and everyone around you.
One year ago I celebrated Inu no Hi. It's when pregnant women go to a temple or shrine to pray for a safe pregnancy and safe delivery. ________ I go to this shrine for everything! It's so pretty in the spring when wisteria bloom. By the way, "kame" means turtle, and you can see so many of them sunbathing in the pond.
I also feel like Shinto is more cultural than religious – nearly every major event is Japan is derived from Shinto, yet Japanese people will quickly tell you that they have “no religion.”
At any rate, we’ve got more celebrations in store for the monster’s first year of life, including her first New Year as well as her first Shinto shrine visit for the New Year. Stay tuned!
Check out my other posts on Japanese celebrations for baby:
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