Monday, December 22, 2008

An English Christmas in Japan

This holiday season is, by far, one of the most unique ones I have ever experienced. There is the obvious reason; being away from my family and wife, but that is only part of my reasoning. So far, I have dressed up as Santa Claus three times (two for work) , attended a gift exchange, attended a foreigner's Christmas party where most gaijin were Chinese, and I had a traditional English (British) Christmas Dinner.

A fellow JET, Janine, who lives a few towns over, invited me to a Christmas dinner that she hosted for her supervisor, English teachers, and Japanese friends. Janine is from England, so she prepared a traditional English Christmas dinner. This dinner was much different than any Christmas dinner I have ever heard of. To start off, we were given “crackers” which are presents that are wrapped around cylindrical tubes and the excess paper is tied with ribbons on both sides of the tube. Each person holds their cracker by crossing their arms and grabbing onto their neighbors’. They then pull the cracker, rip the paper then candy, a joke written on paper, and a Christmas hat fall out. Each guest places their crownesque Christmas hat on and they take turns reading their jokes. Appetizers then were served followed by a pea and cheese soup with a bread board and a glass of red wine. Next came a fish dish with white wine. We had Salmon with cheese on a salad. Next came the main course. We had “Coq au vin” (chicken cooked in wine). After the main course, the cheese board was served. Our cheese board had many french cheeses, grapes, celery, and bread. It was amazing! Finally after all of these dishes comes the dessert. Janine made her family’s “English Trifle” dessert. It had a sponge cake, various fruits, whip cream, and walnuts. Delicious!

The dinner was the first time this year that I began to feel like it’s the holiday season even though it was so different from the Christmas dinners that I’m used to.

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