To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Why the Japanese celebrate Christmas with KFC
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock

Why the Japanese celebrate Christmas with KFC

Kentucky fried chicken is favoured over turkey at this time of year

It's Christmas time, which can only mean one thing. Well, lots of things: turkey, roast potatoes, gravy, chocolate, Baileys, mince pies, more booze, cheese etc.

But in Japan, Christmas is all about KFC.

If you went around to your mum's for Christmas dinner and she plonked a family bucket on the table you'd probably be pretty disappointed - offended even - but in Japan this is the done thing.

But why?

KFC for Christmas, anyone?
REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo

Well, a fundamental difference is that Japan isn't a particularly Christian country, which naturally makes Christmas much less of a big deal.

While the religious element of the celebration may be decreasing in significance in many countries, traditions have endured; whereas in Japan, Christmas isn't even a national holiday.

However, in a world of commercialisation and globalisation, it was only a matter of time before the festive void was filled.

Back in the '70s, a chap called Takeshi Okawara managed the country's first-ever KFC joint and he overheard a bunch of foreigners complaining about missing turkey for Christmas when they visited his restaurant.

This was a monumental moment for Japan, as it dawned on Takeshi that the country was lacking a Christmas dish - and he saw no reason why he couldn't be the man to create one.

He conceived the idea for a 'party barrel' to feed customers something special over Christmas and the scheme took off in 1974.

Associate professor of marketing at Emlyon Business School Joonas Rokka told the BBC: "It filled a void. There was no tradition of Christmas in Japan, and so KFC came in and said this is what you should do on Christmas.

"This is another sign of globalisation, where consumer rituals spread to other countries and often get translated in different ways.

"It's not abnormal now to have an Ikea store everywhere in the world. This KFC for Christmas is just taking our consumerism and turning it into a holiday."

Santa Sanders.
Quality Stock / Alamy Stock Photo

'Kentucky for Christmas' quickly became a nationwide phenomenon, with Takeshi subsequently climbing the ranks and serving as KFC Japan's CEO for 18 years.

KFC Japan even started dressing mascot Colonel Sanders in a red Santa Claus outfit to cement its place as the country's Christmas-time meal.

"It's kind of a symbol of family reunion," said father-of-two Ryohei Ando.

"It's not about the chicken. It's about getting the family together, and then there just happens to be chicken as part of it."

Topics: Food and Drink, Christmas, Weird