Eat, Drink and Be Merry

Okonomiyaki, a delicious savory pancake, is cooked at the table by customers at this Tokyo restaurant.

As we’ve discussed, the elements of culture say important things about who we are, just as we tend to express things about ourselves through these elements of culture. Seemingly meaningless activities, such as eating, playing, and getting from point A to point B, often say a great deal about the culture that we live in.

Eating is not just about nourishment, but is also a social activity. This is true everywhere, but like everywhere, Japan has its own unique customs and rituals surrounding eating and drinking, either with friends or family.

Each morning and evening, I eat with my host family. My host family is somewhat old-fashioned, so the mother brings food to father and I, and then eats after we are finished. However, even if she doesn’t eat with us, it’s important that we show her how much we appreciate her cooking. How do we do this? Well, in Japan no one eats a meal of any kind with out first saying “itadakimasu” – this literally means “I humbly receive.” And once a meal is concluded, we say “gochisousamadeshita” – literally, “it was a feast.”

Can you guys think of any rituals that you have at the dinner or breakfast table?

Tonight, I went out for dinner with friends. The same rituals are still observed, even though the cook isn’t around to hear us say “itadakimasu.” So why say these things if no one is there to appreciate them? Well, the answer is a little bit complicated.

Researchers have identified two different kinds of cultures – low context cultures and high context cultures. America is a low context culture, and Japan is a high context culture. Allow me to use an example to explain:

Imagine that you are standing alone in a completely empty room, and as your mother enters, you say “I didn’t do it.” Because the room is empty except for you, there is no context other than your words. Therefore, discussion must occur before everyone can understand the situation. Your mother must then ask “what didn’t you do?”

Now imagine that you are standing in the same empty room, except that now there is a broken lamp. When your mother enters the room this time, and you say “I didn’t do it,” your mother understands immediately what you claim not to have done. The lamp provides a context for your words, and instead of asking “what didn’t you do,” she can simply tell you that you’re grounded.

In a low context culture, like America, we have to talk more to understand things. In Japan, however, the high context culture means that there are more things that everyone understands without talking about them at all. For instance, when you are about to eat, you say “itadakimasu” – everyone knows this, everyone does it, and everyone understands just what it means. It’s just being polite, and if you don’t remember to do it, people will think you’re very rude.

Can you guys think of a few things that help make America a low context culture? Can you think of any benefits of having to talk to each other more? What about any downsides of having to talk to each other more?

Tamaki-san pours the okonomiyaki ingredients onto the grill, where they will cook before being flipped, cut-up, and served to everyone at the table.

But back to my lovely night out with friends – we went out to an okonomiyaki restaurant. Okonomiyaki is a delicious savory pancake-like food, which you cook at your table on a hot grill. You first order the ingredients – we had a few different pancakes, some with octopus, others with shrimp, one with salmon roe, and one with kimchi – and then cook them into a pancake at your table. After they are finished grilling, you add bonito (fish flakes), sauce, and mayonaise, and then serve. I’ve had plenty of delicious okonomiyaki in my life (Shigezo, in downtown Portland, has good okonomiyaki) but I’ve never had anything quite as delicious as this.

This kind of restaurant is fairly traditional; we sit on small pillows on the floor, cross-legged, cook our own food, and eat with chopsticks. However, these old-fashioned restaurants are just as popular with young people as they are with the older generation. And while I’ve gone out for many meals with friends in America, and had great bonding experiences, I’ve never experienced anything quite like this. The conversation is friendly and fun, and we all make jokes throughout the night, but something about making this food ourselves, together, makes it an even more special and unique than similar meals I’ve eaten in America.

Okonomiyaki cooking on the grill at our table.

Eating isn’t the only cultural ritual that I’ve witnessed lately. In Japan, as we’ve discussed, trains are a very important part of daily life.

It is not unusual to see some people wearing traditional kimono to work in Japan, like this woman, seen on a morning train headed for downtown Tokyo.

Particularly in Tokyo, where literally tens of millions of people take trains to get where they are going each and every day. So, I was not so surprised when I went to the train station the other day and witnessed a special event that the train company was putting on for children.

Children and their parents waited in line to ride small train, while other kids played with toys and watched videos – all about trains.

Kokubunjis train station, in Tokyo, Japan, hosted an event for children this past weekend.

These children, even now, probably spend a good portion of their day on trains, and in the future they’ll spend as much as an hour or more each day commuting to and from school, work, and other activities. So, it makes sense that both their parents and the train companies would want to get them used to the idea of trains as an enjoyable part of daily life.

Real train conductors wave to children riding a special train through kokubunji station, Tokyo, Japan.

Can you think of anything that you have learned or been taught to deal with from an early age? A lot of culture involves learning to appreciate, tolerate, or celebrate the things that are important to us now, or that have been important to us in the past. In Japan, trains are an important part of the past, present, and future.

In a way, parents taking their children for a ride on this small train is just a fun way to spend a Sunday as a family. On the other hand, we can also say that these kinds of activities are contributing to Japan’s role as a high context culture. These children are learning the context of a train commute early in life. They are learning the rules of being a commuter, and even something as simple as a conductor waving at them conveys to them an important message: On the train, I’m the person in charge; I’m here to help you, and to make sure the train runs on time, and since I’m your friend, help me out by doing your part to keep the trains running on time. This contributes, in some small way, to the context of what it means to be a commuter in Tokyo.

It’s important to note that a high context culture is not better or worse than a low context culture; they are just different. In Japan, certain things are understood by everyone, without anyone having to say a word. In America, there is more talk, discussion, and planning about what is happening at any given moment. Can you think of some examples?

Now, spend the next couple of days paying close attention to the things that you do on a daily basis; eating, commuting, going to school, etc. Ask yourself questions about what these things mean, why you do them, and how doing them helps make you a part of your community.

Gochisousamadeshita – “It was a feast.”

 

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About Josh

Part-time journalist & student of communication studies.
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53 Responses to Eat, Drink and Be Merry

  1. Lilith says:

    My family and I eat Pho for lunch every Saturday, and usually eat Tacos/Nachos on Tuesday or Friday.

    • autofact says:

      Lilith, thanks for the comment. Those are certainly delicious traditions as far as I’m concerned. However, there is another way you can think about traditions also: For instance, what kinds of things do you say before or after you eat? While you’re eating, do you tell your mother or father how it tastes or how you like it? What do you say when you’re finished and want to leave the table? These are all important things to pay attention to the next time you eat – they give you important clues about culture.

  2. Lilith says:

    My family and I eat Pho for lunch every Saturday, and usually eat Tacos or Nachos on Tuesday or Friday.

  3. Justin says:

    Wow! I’ve never ate a Okonomiyaki pancake before. It sounds delicious! As you said a couple weeks ago, you’ve ate different kinds of other foreign foods, when you ate food do you understand how it’s prepared or how its cooked?

    • Justin says:

      Also, When I was small I went to a Buddhist Temple, it was very crowded and we had so much fun! And at 1am, there would be a rainbow special effect that goes over the Buddhist temple. I was too young so I had to go home before then.

    • autofact says:

      Thanks for the great question, Justin. In this case, I knew exactly how it was cooked because I helped cook it right at the table. When I eat at home, that’s another story! To be completely honest, I only know what about half of the food that my host mother cooks for me is. I know that it all tastes delicious, but often times I just don’t know what is in it or how it’s prepared. Maybe I’ll get some recipes for you guys soon!

  4. haru says:

    I go to japan every year and i eat at japanese food a lot, cause i was born in japan and I’m half japanese. have you gone to kura-zushi (sushi restaurant chain) before? when i go to japan usually go to kura-zushi at least once. there aren’t very many meal traditions that we follow at home (cause i usually forget Itadakimasu and gochisousamadeshita cause I’m so hungry), but when i go to japan, my cousins’ house is next to my grandparents house and we usually go to a restaurant or eat in my grandparents house. i really like the table at En and Shu and Kasuri’s (my cousins) house cause its the kind that goes into the ground. at school, you can only eat school lunch and you are expected to eat it all. the food there is not as disgusting as most school lunch in america. when i told friends in japan about school lunch in america, they thought that we were lucky to have such foods as pizza and cheeseburgers, but when i told them most cheese burgers have cheese that looks, smells, and taste like plastic, they weren’t as jealous.well, thats all about food for now.

    • autofact says:

      はるさん!Thanks so much for your reply. Do you know how to write the kanji for your name? I’m curious to know! You have to pay such close attention if you were not raised to say “itadakimasu,” don’t you? One time I forget, until the food just touched my lips, then I quickly said it – close call!
      I have not been to kura-zushi, but I’ll be on the lookout for it. Have you ever heard the expression “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence”? Well, I think this applies to what your friends thought about American school lunch. To them, they think it sounds so special, but you know the truth and have eaten it regularly enough to know better. Plus, they are used to a different quality of American fast food. One thing I have noticed is that on the rare occasions that I go to KFC or Burger King for lunch ere in Japan, the food is much better than American fast food is in Oregon.
      Thanks again for the comment!

  5. Edil says:

    My family loves to eat out. The two sushi restaurants we like are Mio Sushi and Saburo’s. Saburo’s always has a long line so we mostly go to Mio Sushi. My favorite sushi roll is the California roll which is made of crab, avocado, cucumber and masago (which is Capelin roe). We also go to Thai restaurants and two of them we like are Thai Noon and Sweet Basil. My favorite Thai dish is yellow curry which is made with coconut milk, potatoes, carrots, and onions. It’s also served with rice.

    • Josh says:

      Edil, thanks for the comment. I love Sweet Basil also – what a great restaurant. Do you notice things that are different when you eat at a Thai restaurant, compared to a Japanese restaurant? What about the difference between eating out and eating at home? Interesting things to pay attention to!

  6. Zhangxiang says:

    I may have said this before but my family is Chinese and that I was born in China. Like other cultures, we follow important traditions in our daily lives. Every day we eat Chinese food. Or at least as Chinese as we can make it. We also celebrate Chinese New Year in which we get little red envelopes of money. Not long ago, my family celebrated the Mid-Autumn festival at which we ate moon cakes. In China though, not only do we eat moon cakes, we also carry around Chinese lanterns and celebrate throughout the whole night. Moon cakes are basically pastries shaped like the moon. They are always tasty and can have varying flavors in its core. It is hard to keep these traditions in an American environment though. We also have an interesting tradition of chopsticks placing. In China, when you put down your chopsticks, you must always have the eating end (not the handling end) face towards the center of the table. Also, we are not allowed to bang any utensils around, it is considered begging for food. Because my family is from the Sichuan province of China, we crave spicy food. I have English friends who visited my hometown, Chengdu, and came back with puffed lips and searing tongues. To us, its as spicy as rice. By the way, in China, it is a lot harder to find us wearing our traditional dress. That is unless you walk around on our big holidays.

    • Ms. McBride says:

      China sounds like a high context culture!

    • Josh says:

      Zhangxiang, thank you so much for the thoughtful and interesting comment. I love hearing about your culture! It is so interesting to hear about the little differences. Did you know that a lot of Japanese culture was originally borrowed from China? During the Heian period, Japanese aristocrats and royalty were not considered ‘high-class’ unless they could read and write in Chinese, compose Chinese style poetry, and appreciate Chinese music and culture. In fact, you may be aware of the fact that Chinese characters (kanji) are also borrowed by the Japanese. However, it wasn’t long before the Japanese changed many of these traditions, making them their own and making them unique.
      Speaking of chopsticks, I always have to be careful to lay my chopsticks flat and never, ever to stick them into my rice pointing up – this is only done at funerals, and it is considered very bad luck!

  7. Krys says:

    Well, in my aunt and uncles house in Germany, they sometimes say a prayer before eating. At my house, however, we don’t. Since my parents are divorced, I have different eating habits with each of them. With my mom, we always eat together at the dinner table, and we always (try to) wait until the other has their food before digging in. At my dad’s, though, we often eat in front of the TV or the computer. One tradition I have with my dad is going to Slappy Cakes, a pancake place where, like at the restaurant you spoke of, you cook on a griddle in the middle of the table. Waiters bring out batter and a few toppings of out choice, like blueberries, chocolate, and goat cheese (weird, I know, but trust me, it works) and we make the pancakes on our own. They’re always really yummy, with the added bonus of us having fun when we made them.
    I think America being a low context culture has changed the way we do a lot of things, from schooling to working. It has also made us a very social country, and as such, we have emphasis on the necessity of being able to navigate the social world. Being a social “butterfly”, as the saying goes, makes life here infinitely easier, and not being a people-person makes things a lot harder.

    • Cassidy says:

      Ooh i love slappy cakes! I made my pancake into the shape of a poodle last time i went. I added whip cream for the white fur.

    • Josh says:

      Krys, thanks for the reply. I’ll have to go to Slappy Cakes sometime next year, after I come back to Oregon. Isn’t it interesting how personalized our eating habits can become, depending on the situation? It sounds like you share very unique eating habits with each of your parents, which probably reflect your personal relationship with them, and how you relate to one another. It’s interesting to think about, isn’t it?
      I think you’re definitely right about America’s low context culture influencing how we communicate – it means that in order for us to communicate well, we often have to be very social. This can be a pretty good thing for people who are naturally “social butterflies,” but on the other hand, what about people who have a hard time being social? It’s a great point that you bring up! However, even in a high context culture like Japan, there are what are called “shut-ins” – people who are just so stressed out by society and interaction, that they lock themselves away from the world. In Japan, the word for this is “Hikikomori” : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori

  8. Huy says:

    Are there any other formal sayings other than “itadakimasu” and ” gochisousamadeshita” that you always have to say in Japan?

    • Josh says:

      This is a great question, Huy. The answer is easy: YES! There are tons of what are called “ritual sayings” in Japan. For instance, every single day, just about every person in Japan says “itte kimasu” when leaving their home. This literally means “I’m going and coming back.” Whoever is staying at home will respond by saying “itte raisyai” to let them know that they have heard them, and that they’ll await their return. When you get home, you yell out “tadaima” which literally just means “now” – as in, I am home now. What happens when you don’t do this? Well, one of my fellow study abroad students scared his host family, who thought he was a burglar – all because he didn’t say “tadaima” to let them know he was home!
      You’ve probably heard the word “sayoonara” before, right? This means “goodbye,” but what it is only used when you aren’t going to see someone for a while. So, if you are going on a long trip or away to college, you will say this. However, if a child said this to his mother while leaving for school in the morning, she would think he was running away from home!

  9. Annie says:

    every christmas eve my family makes fondue and bread and on christmas my oma makes a really good cake thing, i don’t know what it’s called

    • Josh says:

      Annie, thanks for the great comment. It sounds like Christmas at your house is quite a tasty cultural celebration! Why do I say cultural celebration? Well, it sounds to me like you are celebrating with some traditional foods popular where your family came from. Because you used the word “Oma” for your Grandmother, I’m guessing that your family is either Dutch or German in descent. Isn’t it interesting how much little cultural clues like that can tell us about one another? Then again, we’ve got to be careful not to assume too much

  10. Anandi says:

    When my family eats dinner, we all have to be at the table before anyone can start eating. Unless, of corse, someone is not home. I don’t think that is a religious thing, but I haven’t really dug deeper into the subject. I have never heard of a restaurant where you cook your own food, but I do know of several places where chefs cook the food in front of you. How hot do the grills on the tables get? It sounds like it could be kind of dangerous if the grill was too hot. You could burn yourself. When you live in Portland do you go to Shigezo a lot? I have never heard of it.

    • Josh says:

      Anandi, thanks for the comment. I go to Shigezo about once or twice per month, sometimes more often. I think that waiting for everyone to show up is a pretty good tradition to keep alive – can you think of one reason why this might be especially important in a low context culture like America, where we need to communicate with one another a lot, but don’t always see each other often due to our busy schedules?
      About the restaurant, the grill at the table gets very hot, and you do need to be careful. However, I don’t think injuries are common. People use common sense, and everything is okay!

  11. greta says:

    My family and I, almost every year, host a smorgasbord. A smorgasbord is Scandinavian feast held around the winter solstice. It’s so fun, and delicious, with loads of traditional round crackers and lots of pickled herring, many hate this but i love it, and of course princess cake , which is cake but with cream marzipan, jam and some times ice cream. We have this every year because we’re Finish, so even though some of the food there is Swedish we still have it because both are part of Scandinavia.

    • greta says:

      Ohh and i almost forgot meatballs and lingonberry jam!

    • Josh says:

      Greta, thanks for the great comment. I loved hearing about your smorgasbord! My family is part Norwegian, so I am a little bit familiar with Scandinavian culture. I have eaten pickled herring, I love marzipan, and who doesn’t love lingonberry jam?
      On a related note, do you know what the Japanese call smorgasbord style eating? They do have it here in Japan, at special restaurants, and they have their own special word for it: アイキング (pronounced Bikin-gu). Now say “bikingu” out loud, replacing the “b” sound with a “v” sound, and droping the “u” from the end. Yep, you’ve got it. “Viking!” Interesting, right?

  12. Molly says:

    Every friday, my family makes pizza. We set the table with a special candle and tablecloth, and we choose our pizza toppings, mix dough, and have a really good time! Also have you ever had Japanese tea candies? I’m not sure what they’re called exactly, but they are really good and they look like sea glass.

    • Josh says:

      Molly, we had a very similar tradition in my family when I was younger, but we only did it about once each month – and sometime we cheated and ordered pizza instead ; ) I think it’s a lot more fun to make together, though, isn’t it? Especially if you’re not the one who has to clean up the mess!
      I am not sure if I’ve had Japanese tea candies or not, but I’ll ask for them the next time I go to the candy store – yes, there is a massive store that just sells candy right on the way to my school.

      • gluue says:

        sometimes i make pizza though most of the time we cheat by buying it 😉 and we all get our own pizza toppings but my mom always makes it thin crust 😦

        Max

  13. Xander C. says:

    My family doesn’t really have any traditions for breakfast or lunch, but at dinner we do have some. We all have to be there before we start dinner, although sometimes we are really hungry and can’t wait for somebody, but that doesn’t happen very often. At dinner we like to talk about what happened during the day, and we try to make sure everybody says something. Also, either before or after dinner we pray to God thanking Him for the meal and the day. We usually try to make something homemade every meal, and sometimes we have some special dinners to celebrate someone’s birthday or just for fun, like fries we make ourselves with potatoes. I love that meal! Those fries are delicious!

    • Ders says:

      Like you, Xander, my family blesses the food before dinner each day. this is part of our Mormon religion. My mom tries to make dinner homemade every day, and yes, she even makes fries.

    • Josh says:

      Xander, thanks for the comment and for sharing your family mealtime traditions. It’s nice to have some special time with our families, isn’t it? I haven’t lived with my family for a few years now, since I’ve been in college. It’s been interesting for me to be living with a Japanese family, because now I have people to talk with at dinner again. We watch the news while we eat breakfast and dinner, and we talk about our day, or what’s on the news – all in Japanese, of course.
      Now you’ve made me hungry for homemade french fries! I’ll give you a little bit of trivia, also: French fries actually come from a country called Belgium, and they are called “frijtes” there. When I went to Belgium, I accidentally asked for french fries at a frijtes stand and the old woman who worked there got very mad at me!

  14. Sam says:

    Koreans also make pancakes, not the breakfast kind. I think I have had two kinds of Korean pancakes before. I know they contain green onions but I’m not sure of any more ingredients. I have also been to a Korean restaurant and there are low tables with pillows to sit on, like the Japanese. I don’t know if they do any rituals before they eat though. In class right now we are studying the cultural influence of Korea, China and India on Japan. Could this be a cultural influence? During on Christmas and Thanksgiving nobody can eat until everyone is seated. We go around saying what were thankful for. I think that’s the only thing we do for rituals before we eat, but I don’t know if you would consider it a ritual. Post some more stuff!

    • Josh says:

      Sam, thanks for the great comment. One of my classes is about politics, and it is very interesting because it has lots of Japanese students, but also Korean and Chinese students as well. It’s interesting to get different perspectives on these things, because Chinese, Korean, and Japanese history is all so tightly connected – and unfortunately it’s not always been nice!
      I will talk more in my next post about some of the Chinese and Korean influences on Japan. The primary influence of India was Buddhism, which is major, but I’ll focus on some of the more fun stuff – literature, language, and other important elements of culture.

  15. Zaide says:

    one tradition my family has is that we always make pecan pie on Thanksgiving and potato latkes on Hanukah . every Christmas eve we used to have crab, but then the year my brother was about three or four we found out that he was allergic to shellfish so we’ve barely had it ever since, and crab has been my favorite food ever since. i like traditions because they remind that even as we grow and change there are some things about our life that remain the same

    • Josh says:

      Zaide, thanks for the great comment. You have really hit the nail on the head here, because one of the really important things that traditions and rituals do is connect us to our past. Not just our own past, but our family history, and the history of our ancestors. Why is this important? Well, for one thing, it is pretty difficult to think about who you are if you don’t know where you come from, right? These traditions help us remember where we come from, which gives us a good place to start when we are deciding who we want to be.
      Pecan pie is my favorite! I also love potato latkes, and since I grew up in Alaska, of course I love crab. You’ve got great taste!

  16. Ders says:

    Those Okonomiyaki sound really interesting (and delicious). My family usually only cooks food that most Americans would eat, but we often try something new. We cook pancakes sometimes, but not with seafood. usually with huckleberries or carrots. One downside of having to talk to each other more is that there a lot of minutes in our lives that we don’t get back. Keep posting!

    • Josh says:

      Ders, thanks for the comment. It’s true, sometimes it can feel like talking is just wasting time, but sometimes it really is incredible how much we can learn about others just by chatting. But, it sounds like you have a very “Japanese” perspective on things – they have a saying in Japan that “silence is golden” and at some points in Japanese history, people who spoke well were considered to be untrustworthy. Isn’t that incredible?

  17. Cassidy says:

    Pretty much the only traditions my family has is that we have tacos thursday night and pizza friday night, and thats only at my dad’s house. That’s is basically where traditions end in my family. When I was little there were alot of traditions in my family, but they have been destroyed by my parents 😦 Also it’s very interesting how the way a country makes there pancakes or pancake like dishes tell alot about their culture. Like in France they have crepes, which aren’t really pancakes but are close enough in my book.

  18. Rebecca says:

    Is it a coincidence ‘Bonito’ is the word for fish? You maybe know that bonito is beautiful in Spanish. Ahhh…beautiful trilingual fish… how nice.
    My family has no personal traditions for eating but my mom is stubborn about arbitrary etiquette rules, such as don’t eat until the hostess lifts her fork, always point the knife with the rounded part toward the plate, and never reach for a plate of food yourself, always ask someone to pass it. Oh mom. She gets really angry when I ask her why its important though so I’ve learned to accept these and do them automatically.

    • Josh says:

      Rebecca, thanks for the comment. “Bonito” is a common word for fish flakes, but the real name is actually “katsuobushi” : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katsuobushi
      They put it on lots of things here, and it’s delicious, but very, very salty.
      The Japanese word for fish, referring to fish generally, is “sakana.” Here is how you write it in Japanese: 魚

  19. Ms. McBride says:

    My family is very newly formed, and so we are just newly forming our traditions together. So far as a family we visit grandparents for Thanksgiving and Christmas, call family on Passover, and eat burritos on Friday nights from Laughing Planet on Belmont. We usually stop for a cupcake on the way home. It’s interesting to create new traditions as I form my own family, as opposed to sticking with the traditions my parents and siblings and I followed as I grew up. One tradition that I keep from my childhood is always sitting down at a meal with loved ones, as opposed to eating on the go, or watching TV when we eat (well, maybe once in awhile…). One new tradition that my new family and I have created is blessing the food before we dive in. I love this moment of appreciation and quiet before eating.

    • Josh says:

      Thanks for commenting, Ms. McBride! It is, indeed, interesting to think about how we build on old traditions, while also creating new traditions as we move forward. I think the cupcake on the way home is a tradition that I can support 100%.
      It’s been very interesting for me to re-create my family tradition of sitting and talking with the family, but with another family – and in another language, no less. I guess there are some things that are the same everywhere!

  20. Aaron says:

    At my house, whenever we sit down to eat, we always say a prayer in Hebrew before eating.

    • Aaron says:

      I forgot: also on Fridays (which are the beginning of the Sabbath for Jews) we eat a special meal of chicken and a bread called challah. And on Saturdays, as a ritual called Havdalah, at sundown we light a special braided candle and douse it in wine to commemorate the new week.

  21. Trevionn says:

    My family traditions are to celebrate american holidays, such as Christmas Halloween and other things. My family is not about St. Patrick’s day, we think “It’s St. Patrick’s day oh goody, another holiday I DON’T celebrate.” or, ” it’s a holiday today,” I reply, “Really?” “Yep.” “Oh it’s presidents day. My family cares, but forgets, Hey I’m in it for a day off of school. What holidays are common in Japan

    • Zeno says:

      Yeah, plus, you pinch someone who’s not wearing green on St. Patrick’s Day & they say, “I’m not pinching you, so don’t pinch me!”
      Which really takes all the fun out of the holiday, since we don’t get the day off school.

  22. Julie says:

    A tradition my family does is that every Lunar New Years we wear cultural dresses called áo dài, which means long dress. We also give each other lucky money in red envelopes but we have to thank each other. Did you know that Lunars New Years isn’t on the first day of the year?MIt’s the first new moon of the year. Crazy huh?

  23. Bebe says:

    In my family, we always eat together with the television off. We also always make Christmas ordaments out of clay and it’s really fun!

  24. Bebe says:

    And apevery year, we (try to) go to the apple festival. There is a scavenger hunt there, and apple tasting. We go camping often, sometimes just over the weekend. We always have a get together for my dad’s family durin the summer. I love traditions because they are consistent and even though change is great, if everything changed it would be uncomfortable and different.

  25. Anna says:

    We don’t have many traditions in my family. My mom enforces the rules of the dinner table: polite conversation, no texting, no reading. Every year at thanksgiving we go around the table and say what we are thankful for, and every Christmas my great grandma holds a party. (we celebrate Christmas even though we aren’t religious.)

  26. Shock000 (Gabe) says:

    We (my family) always has dinner together!

  27. kendall says:

    almost every halloween when we carve pumkins we play halloween music in the background and we always use the same plastic tablecloth

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