Chicken and Christmas? クリスマスとチキンの関係は?

2013.12.12 (Thu)

Oven roasted brine-soaked turkey

Roast Christmas turkey クリスマスの七面鳥

Image by TheKohser (own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons





Did you know this? While there is a custom of eating turkey in America and Europe to celebrate Christmas, the custom of eating chicken on Christmas is unique to Japan. The first time I came to Japan, when it got close to Christmas everyone asked me, “will you eat chicken at Christmas?” At the time, I really couldn’t work out why they were asking me that. “What does chicken have to do with Christmas?” I thought.

Many years have passed since then, but I still wasn’t sure of the link, so I did a bit of research. It turns out that in 1974, there was a KFC “Christmas Chicken” campaign, and the custom grew from that. That campaign is still going today, but it’s become any sort of chicken, not just KFC chicken, to celebrate Christmas in Japan.

I don’t think it’s at all strange that a cultural custom sprang from an advertising campaign. The truth is that is happens quite often, in lots of countries. For example, the red and white of Santa’s suit was spread by a Coca-cola advertising campaign in the 1930s. Before that campaign, Santa didn’t necessarily wear red and white.

The thing we call culture is a moving, living thing, and so it’s natural that it is influenced by trends and traditions. If it didn’t, wouldn’t it tend to stagnate and become locked in? So I think it’s great that whether it’s from an ad campaign or a trend, just like Santa and fried chicken, we can find our own meaning and create our own ways of celebration.


One comment

  1. When I was little, chicken was for special occasions, including Christmas. Often, the chicken was one of your own, killed and plucked at home.

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