Hot and Cold Christmas 炎热的圣诞节VS寒冷的圣诞节
Todd: So Megen, we are both teachers, English teachers in Japan, and we both come from countries that Christmas, but Christmas is so different in Japan than in our home countries, so I though we would talk about that.
Megen: Yeah, absolutely. It’s particularly different to Australia because we have … we have it in summer.
Todd: Oh, that’s right. So it’s a beautiful summer holiday, right?
Megen: It is, though when it get hotter here in Japan, I start to feel that it’s getting into Christmas season.
Todd: Oh, right! So summer is Christmas.
Megen: Yes, yeah.
Todd: That’s so cool. Do you still do the Christmas tree and the gifts under the tree?
Megen: We do and we have a lot of the same Christmas traditions, but the food is pretty different. We eat a lot of fresh fruits, and we have like fresh prawns. I guess you might call them shrimps.
Todd: Right, no we call them prawns too. Prawns or shrimp. Wow! That’s interesting. You know, it’s cool that you brought up food because we’re both in Japan and I think it’s very interesting that in Japan the Christmas dinner is fried chicken.
Megen: Yeah! I can’t imagine eating KFC or any kind of chicken for Christmas.
Todd: Now did you know about this before you came to Japan?
Megen: I didn’t actually. I was shocked when I heard about it.
Todd: Yeah, I didn’t believe it at first, and then when I came to Japan, I saw the long lines outside KFC, and I thought, wow, this really is a thing. And now in Japan, not only do they have KFC chicken, but everywhere. So the supermarkets make fried chicken. The convenience stores have fried chicken. Other hamburger stores have fried chicken, all just for Christmas.
Megen: Yeah, yes, I don’t think we usually eat chicken. Maybe some families would eat roast chicken, but usually we eat cold meats.
Todd: Oh, right, so Australia is fresh fruit, shrimp, and cold meats.
Megen: Yeah, we have a few Australian desserts that I haven’t seen in any other coutries, but I think in Australia there’s a lot of variety though, so my family in particular, that’s what we eat, but I think every family is different. How about in America?
Todd: Ah, in America it’s very close to Thanksgiving, so usually you have a big bird, so you have turkey or chicken or ham. Ham is a big one. So you might have baked ham. But you have lots of sweets, lots of cakes, Christmas cakes, pies, cookies. Things like that. So everybody gains a lot of weight. Do you eat a lot of sweets for Christmas in Australia?
Megen: Well, I imagine they eat more baked goods in America, but we eat a lot of cold, like parfait, kind of desserts. With a mix of like sponge cake and jelly and cream, and we do eat cookies and different like chocolate sweets, and yeah, I think we do some baking but, yeah, not so much pies.
Todd: So in Australia because it’s so warm, do you spend the day at the beach?
Megen: We do! Yeah, a lot of people have pools. Their own pools, so they will go swimming in their backyard, or they’ll go to the beach, or play cricket outside.
Todd: That’s great! So do you barbecue? Is Barbecue a common way?
Megen: Yeah! Especially for Christmas. It’s really great to be outside. And there are barbecues you can use near the beach or in the parks, so a lot of people go outside and mingle with the locals. It’s great.
Todd: Oh, that’s fantastic. So in the Northern Hemisphere, Christmas is often associated with snow, so you have the snowman and things like that. Do you have those types of decorations in Australia?
Megen: We do! Although we don’t have any snow, we still have the snow decoration. And usually Santa Claus still wears the long sleeve winter clothing, although we do have our own version of Santa Claus, that wears singlets and shorts.
Todd: That’s nice. So you’ve lived in a country with a warm Christmas, and a country with a cold Christmas. Which do you prefer?
Megen: Well, I think because I’ve spend so many Christmases in Australia, that I still feel like it’s Christmas when it gets warmer, and when I see things like peaches and watermelon in season I want to celebrate Christmas.
Todd: That’s so cool.
Megen: Do you want to experience a Christmas in Australia?
Todd: I do. I do! That is definitely on my bucket list now, to have a warm weather Christmas.
Megen: It would be so strange for you!
Adopting Holidays 适应节日
Todd: So Megen we are talking about Holidays and Christmas and in the last interview we talked the difference between Christmases in a cold country and a warm country, so now I thought we would talk about Christmas in countries that aren’t really Christian countries. They don’t really celebrate it for religuous reasons. So we’re in Japan and it’s interesting that in Japan it’s a romantic day, right?
Megen: Yes. Yeah it is.
Todd: It’s like Valentine’s Day
Megen: Yes, you have to spend Christmas with your partner.
Todd: Right, and everybody looks forward to it. To go out on a date and give each other gifts, and yeah.
Megen: Yeah, yeah, I think the fireworks are for the boyfriend and girlfriend and I think, and I think there are a lot of decorations that are similar to like Valentine’s actually.
Todd: Yeah, it’s interesting because they have the Christmas decoration everywhere, but nobody gets the day off. No families celebrate it really.
Megen: Yeah, it’s a regular day.
Todd: Except eating the chicken dinner, which we talked about — the fried chicken dinner. Yeah, so it’s kind of like one of those, like I call it a soft holiday. Like in America a soft holiday would be St Patrick’s Day. Like everybody has to go to work but you do something that day related to the holiday even though you have no historical connection to it at all.
Megen: Ah, I see.
Todd: So for example on St Patrick’s Day you drink green beer and you wear green. Like, do you do that in Australia?
Megen: Ah, that started to become a thing in Australia that the bars do tend to have green beer, and you have green clothing that you might wear and people go out. It’s definitely a drinking holiday. Not a holiday though.
Todd: Right, are there any other holidays that you’ve absorbed into Australia?
Megen: Well, people are starting to celebrate Halloween more these days and people take their kids trick or treating.
Todd: Oh, really?
Megen: Yeah! Not everyone does it, though I think that some people like to put a sign on their front door to say that trick-or-treaters are welcome, because generally we don’t do that kind of thing in Australia, but the departments, the department stores are having more decorations and it’s definitely infiltrating from America I think.
Todd: Oh, that’s interesting. So, in America Halloween is a big time to have parties. Do you have parties?
Megen: I think more and more people are having parties. They have their own party in their house with decorations and costumes, but it’s hard to say how many people celebrate Halloween really.
Todd: Well, what about costumes? Did you wear a costume?
Megen: I never wore a costume in Australia. I had never celebrated Halloween, but I noticed that some of my friends, and friends with children, they are celebrating it more, and it’s becoming just a chance to have a party and dress up.
Todd: As an English teacher did you dress up here in Japan?
Megen: Yes, I did actually. Twice.
Todd: Oh, you did. Did you like it?
Megen: I did. It was fun to dress up. I dressed up as a character from a Jubilee movie, and it was really good to get together with my friends and to go out. Have you ever dressed up before?
Todd: Oh, countless times. Countless. Yeah, so as a kid it was a big thing definitely in America.
Giving Gifts 送礼物
Todd: Do you feel pressure to get certain gifts for your kids?
Aimee: I … sometimes. Sometimes. Thankfully they … it’s not … there’s not too much pressure where we live right now, so I don’t feel too much pressure and I also work hard to fight against it. Yeah. Every year I tell myself, “OK, they’re so young. We have so much stuff already. We don’t need to go crazy with gifts. Just get one or two” and we do that and then last minute is like “Oh, no! We don’t have many gifts” and then we end up buying a few more, so… We’re not as bad as we could be. There’s not as much pressure as there could be.
Todd: Yeah. I’m lucky in that I live in Japan. You know, we both teach in Japan. So my family’s in America, so Christmas usually always falls like the day after we finish school, so I can’t actually make it home in time for Christmas, which is awesome because then I don’t have to buy gifts for everybody. And I don’t mind … its not the money. I don’t mind spending the money, but I really don’t like shopping, and I hate having … I have a huge family. Huge!
Todd: So the thought of having to buy 20 different gifts!
Aimee: It’s a lot of gifts.
Todd: Oh, really it’s not the cost either, it’s just I’m too lazy to think of “Oh, what sweater can I buy this person or …” it’s not my thing. And I don’t want gifts and I don’t want to give gifts.
Aimee: Well, you know that’s fair.
Todd: How about you? Are gifts still something special for you?
Aimee: I’m not … I’m not very good at it. I’m trying to improve cause I know a well-thought-out gift can mean the world to someone, so I’m trying to improve. Yeah, but I’m not the best. I don’t mind, I’m not like. I won’t fall out with someone if they don’t get me a present. I’m not like that.
Todd: Well, like, I like getting people birthday gifts, I have to admit that. Birthday gifts I like. It’s just having to buy twenty, thirty gifts within a one-month period to me just seems obscene.
Aimee: I know, and that’s the pressure people are under cause that’s the way it is, isn’t it? And it’s always … it’s always the mothers of the family that have to do it as well right? They’re the ones that have to make sure they buy all the gifts for everyone, so they feel they have so much to do. That mental list of everything, and everyone they have to buy for, of course they have to organize it, so they maybe start earlier, right, and taking advantage of things like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are manageable ways to deal with that load.
Todd: You’ve changed my mind. I was very anti- both but now that you put it that way, maybe you’re right.
Aimee: I don’t know.
Todd: Let’s go!