Christmas seems to have arrived in Japan early - as it seems to be doing in every country around the world now. Here, although they don't understand the origins of "Christmas" at all and have no idea how it is celebrated in other countries they have developed their own traditions - sponge cakes, a day for lovers etc.
In our house we have also started some new traditions - mainly because of a lack of access to things that we would normally be able to get easily in New Zealand. Our main one is the decorations on our tree. Many years ago it was difficult to get any kind of decorations in Japan so we started making our own... with photos! Now every year I make frames and put photos of our family as well as anyone else who has spent time with us at Christmas. This year I left it up to the children to put them all on the tree and they had a great time looking at how they had changed over the years and also remembering all the people who had been here at Christmas. It was really nice to listen to them getting excited when they saw each person - oh look, here's Aunty Megan, here's Hannah, Peter, Rosa, Birgit, Paul, Emi, Mickey etc. etc. etc!
It's time to start making some more for this year, but as there are 13 people (not including us) coming on December 24th for a pre-Christmas dinner and then more on the 25th I think I will be using group family photos rather than an individual one for each person!
Our other tradition is our advent calendar that the children think of as the big thing with pockets full of chocolate... actually there is limited chocolate in it this year and lots of practical things like toothpaste and chopsticks. I wonder what the response will be. Fiona gave us another one last year which is the "adult" one. Now that one is full of chocolate!