KFC, Santa Claus, and Christmas: An Outsider’s Perspective

The Christmas holiday can be a very different experience depending on where you celebrate it, and few have to adapt their plans more than foreign parents who reside in Japan.

Louise George Kittaka is one such foreign parent inside Japan, and she described her situation in great detail in a piece called “What do you do when the kids think Colonel Sanders is Santa?” In the piece, she discusses her position as someone who has to take into consideration the specific cultural expectations and traditions that are typical in the country. For example, as she says in the piece, my youngest daughter used to be convinced that Santa moonlighted as Colonel Sanders, or “Kentucky Ojiisan” as kids call him. She’d seen the statue of the Colonel decked out in a Santa suit outside our local KFC and come up with her own explanation. “Santa cooks chicken for everyone at Christmas,” she declared.

Read the rest of the piece for more of her insight.

When considering people living outside of the countries they grew up in during their childhood, the experience of a “holiday” in a substantially different society can vary greatly from what the person experienced as a child, and Kittaka’s piece does a good job explaining the specific situation faced by her and, in turn, other non-Japanese individuals living in and continually adapting to Japanese customs.

To some of us (those of us in the United States), associating Christmas with Kentucky Fried Chicken is extremely strange, but apparently it’s quite a big deal over there, and is a solid example of the many differences between the holiday season in the US and the holiday season in Japan.

 

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