Ho,ho,ho…goes Colonel Sanders, laughing all the way to the bank.

A Charming Modern Holiday Tradition of Christmas Fried Chicken

Stuffed turkey, roast ham, leg-of-lamb… Every family in the West has their own idea of what constitutes the main course of Christmas dinner, and any deviation would lead to an outcry from relatives far and wide who have made the long journey to your dinner table. But Japan, being a land of tradition, naturally made their very own tradition for Christmas dinner. That tradition also involves a jolly old man with a white beard, but it’s probably not the same mythical man you have in mind.

Kentucky Fried Chicken is not only a commonplace centerpiece of the table on Christmas, it’s downright expected. Conversely, Japan doesn’t really celebrate Christmas Day, but instead vies to celebrate Christmas Eve. Just where did this charming obsession with fried chicken on Christmas come from?

Mysterious Origins of Japan’s Fried Chicken Christmas

There are various theories as to how this tradition came about – either from a very successful marketing campaign by KFC years back, an innate Japanese preference for all things smaller and more compact (stemming from a perception that bigger objects tend to taste bland with a less refined taste), or even perhaps the uncanny resemblance between Colonel Sanders and Santa Claus. Whatever the reason, there is no turning back now. Don’t be surprised if the next question you get this winter season is, “How much Kentucky did you eat on Christmas?” Similarly, cakes are an expected sight on the table for a Japanese Christmas – in particular, strawberry shortcakes, also a birthday staple – and are commonly sold out across Japan on the days of December 24th and 25th!

Early Reservations Make or Break Japanese Christmas Wishes

If you find yourself in Japan during the holidays in the winter season and want to partake in the Japanese KFC tradition, you’ll need to make reservations as soon as possible to ensure you get your KFC order. Orders are taken for the KFC bucket around two weeks before Christmas, with special limited Christmas meals and packages, including whole roast-chickens and Christmas cakes. These winter season meals are so popular that it can be exceedingly difficult to book, and the price you’ll pay of making your family happy for Christmas just might make your wallet cry. But don’t worry, if you miss out on a KFC meal, you’re not limited to a bucket of coal instead. In a bid to get a piece of the Christmas pie for those who miss out on the KFC frenzy, convenience stores and supermarkets have also started frying up chickens in zest, making Christmastime a great opportunity to try out Japanese fried chicken of all sorts.

Every Time A Bell Rings, a Family Gets Their Chicken Wings

So, there you have it, Christmas is virtually synonymous with fried chicken in Japan! You may not be surprised, and you are probably salivating over the very thought of stuffing yourself with the Colonel’s secret recipe on Christmas, or kicking yourself for not thinking of it first. You might be asking yourself, why is KFC even open on Christmas? The reason it’s made possible in Japan because Christmas is not a federal holiday there. As a result, KFC restaurants are able to kick up production to meet the high demand. If you haven’t already placed your KFC orders and don’t fancy a long wait for fast food, you know where to go for your Christmas Fried Chicken. Or, you could just be a ham and go cold turkey.

Here’s wishing all our readers a very Merry Christmas!

About Sh旬n:
Shun (旬) translates directly into “season”, but strictly speaking in Japan refers to the ten days in which a food (be it a fruit, vegetable, fish or dish) is deemed to be at its tastiest and best period in which it is to be eaten. 季節(kisetsu), which also translates into “season”, refers to six periods within each season (spring, summer, autumn, winter), according to the solar calendar in which a change in the season is deemed to occur – an indication of the Japanese sensitivity to changes in the weather and climate, and its impact on crops and catches of the day. 「A Taste of Sh旬n」aims to bring you the freshest and best harvests, catches and dishes of the day.