How KFC became Japan’s Christmas tradition

Many countries around the world celebrate Christmas each with their own tradition and, surprisingly, so does Japan.

Though not a national holiday, Japan partakes in Christmas celebrations with a delicious twist involving champagne and buckets of fried chicken, Kentucky Fried Chicken to be exact. Why KFC? It’s not as out-there as you might think.

KFC launched its “Kentucky for Christmas” campaign back in 1974, when it noticed foreigners unable to get their hands on any turkey and instead opted for the next best thing, fried chicken. And the tradition has taken off ever since.

These days around Christmastime, statues of Colonel Sanders suited up as Santa Claus are stationed outside KFC restaurants welcoming guests as they pick up their Christmas dinners complete with chicken, cake and champagne. In fact, pre-booking your meal is often required.

Another interesting tidbit is the gift-giving aspect, which is more along the lines of Valentine’s Day. Couples exchange small gifts but don’t go to the extent that we do as far creating gift-lists for friends and family.

In many ways, Japanese culture has shown its ability to blend parts of cultures from around the world into its own. Much like how DHC’s Japanese origins have a Spanish influence, Japan’s KFC-for-Christmas tradition is just another example of Japan creating something entirely new from a centuries-old, foreign tradition.