I know. Bears again. But I love ‘em! I choose this title because it sounds cool and let’s face it, some people got some toy bears today. BUT! Plushies aren’t the focus here. Most of the time I’ll choose a blog topic based on things I’ve seen or heard and would like to know more about. This one in particular, however, I’m just downright curious. Since Christmas is so dang global anymore, how do so many cultures adopt it?
A primary reason is obvious, of course. Money. A common thread linking much of my research is the marketing industry. Anymore holidays are times for businesses to capitalize on all the hype people dedicate to all their activities, especially if those people are using holidays as their excuse to just…shop. The emphasis as to what Christmas season in particular means to individuals varies from person to person.
Christmas in the U.S. for starters. Peoples in my country come from many cultures, visit from many cultures and/or grew up with people from other said cultures. So, pinpointing a common motivation for celebrating winter holidays at all is kinda hard for me. But while I’m being personal—My experience of Christmas in particular is based on my Christian background, who raised me, and me just choosing Christianity in particular as a way of life –me being an addult and all ^^. So my motivation is quite traditional and western. I admit I like the superficial side of it too! A Lot. What am I talking about? In the states, food preparation and decorating are constantly hyped about. Advertising, office gossip, you name it. I just happen to enjoy those sides of it, because I’m a creator and like to make things. Sometimes I’ll hear people talking about preparing for Christmas holiday, gift-giving and mail-orders as if discussing errands and bills. In a way, yeah. Christmas kinda is just one huge expense for many people. Those zeros add up WITHOUT FAIL.
I am also familiar with gift-giving cultures outside the states. Korea and Japan always come to mind for me. Based on the people I’ve met, the friends I’ve had and former input from my professors, I know for a fact giving gifts is a huge deal in these countries. The holiday season doesn’t even have to weigh into that either. I only eagerly wait for the day I can speak from personal experience and not just from credible hearsay. But for now, it’s all I got. I remember a close friend of mine, Jei, a former Resident Assistant from my college days, was an exchange student from South Korea. I forget which city. I recall an activity event she held, making homemade bubble teas for my floor neighbors and me. While we each make our teas, Jei brings out a paper branch with hand-painted blossoms on it. A creation by her mother (who was still in Korea, by the way). Very sweet. I know in my gut, looking back that such a gift was precious. I also understand that Jei was a hard worker and how her mother gave support while knowing that. Korean culture encourages people to give gifts to commend hard work and stresses the importance of labor or effort of any kind. It’s a cultural norm and isn’t always a matter of simply getting a “pat-on-the-back” as it generally is in the states. It’s an expectation, yes. Just a…different…kind.
Japan’s the same way with giving gifts. A former professor, and a very humble older Japanese woman, gives me a gift one day after asking me about my shirt size, oddly enough. I receive a turquoise sweater, a Japanese import, and a Tazo tea set, to my surprise. To say I was “touched” would be an understatement. Granted, being asked my shirt size is rather suspicious, and what with the holiday season being underway at the time. I still don’t expect a gift of that magnitude and a pricey one at that. Ten times better than an apple paper-weight, no? I think it’s because I worked; I was a Japanese-language tutor after all. But a gift from a professor whom I didn’t directly answer to?! Knowing that professor’s culture, to this day allows me to not only appreciate such a gift but I get insight to her as an individual; where she’s coming from. A small, but invaluable exchange such as that gives me a tiny peek into another culture and social norms at work.
A small surprise to me concerning the holiday season, though, is China. I say small because at this point I ask myself “What continent on this globe hasn’t been visited by Christian missionaries at some point in history?” But that’s just it! Apparently Christmas in China has gained a lot of popularity in recent years thanks to marketing. The almighty tourism industry? One of the articles I read mentioned that since westerners have been coming to China, the market there started advertising the Christmas season to gain that piece of the demographic. Foreigners start to decorate their homes, exchange gifts, set up trees, local Chinese citizens participate and pretty soon Christmas is just the thing to do. China has much in common with Japan and Korea in this respect, but it’s not too surprising. There are Christians in China (Japan and Korea too!) who aren’t foreigners, but for the most part Buddhism is still dominant, if memory serves me. Christmas décor is being is made by people who don’t know the purpose of and carols sung by many who don’t understand the words. BUT! Nevertheless, apparently the Christmas holiday industry is booming in China, one way or another. Huh.
Another aspect of the holiday season East-bound that still tickles me: Dating! Honestly, this isn’t news to me but one article I read summed it up perfectly. Christmas often looks like a glorified, winter version of Valentine’s Day in countries like Japan, Korea and China. I mean, sure it’s family time too, but between buying gifts for work and the hype altogether, expecting to spend time with a significant other must be a whole ‘NOTHER type of pressure, ha! New Years in Japan can get like that too, or so I’ve heard. I’d guess there are those few who think “Screw it! Who needs a date? I’ll just chill and spend Christmas at home.” But in cultures where it’s normal to date at this time, I can imagine the awkwardness. My heart goes out to all those high-school students in Japan and Korea juggling—“WHAT?” You ask. EXAMS, CRAM SCHOOL (e.g. think summer school consisting of only AP classes), SOCIAL LIFE (what social life?)—FINDING A FREAKIN DATE?! Christmas. Yikes! Businessmen and women go through this too in these countries. It’s normal, for sure. But I realize, after all this research and just…life, that the holidays can be stressful regardless of where you’re coming from.
A part of me wonders if Christmas around the world is akin to say, Starbucks and Mickie Dee’s (McDonald’s if your fancy.) It may not mean much to some, but people partake anyways because it’s always just there. In any case, I’m looking forward to baking some more sweet potato pies for pure sake of the occasion. (If anyone would like to share their experiences around holidays in general, feel free to drop comment or follow me via any of my social links at the bottom of the page to reach me ^///^)
Happy and Safe Holidays!
WANNA LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC?
**COA's, Disclaimers and ETC's**
All mentioned content is purely for entertainment/informative purposes. All links provided for each respective topic are of sites I find trustworthy (a.k.a. safe to browse) with any following content the property of those admins. Any unexpected roads to elsewhere are at the discretion of your own browser/internet provider’s security settings …annnd hopefully a good firewall.
Please pardon me if I am not too accurate with the subjects I post about. I do try my best to stay current and not generalize. Constructive criticism and “Grammar Nazis” are welcome (especially about my artwork ^_^), but no flames …[pretty] PLEASE? If you have anything to add, correct or would like to share any cool topics you’d like me to draw for, feel free to click on the links towards the bottom of each page, or drop me a message here!