Annual Shibuya gathering brings together dateless demonstrators.

For the past several decades, Christmas Eve has been the biggest date night in Japan, a time for young lovers to get dressed up, have an elegant dinner at a fancy restaurant, and exchange presents. But for the members of Japan’s Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People, Christmas Eve isn’t a time for dating.

Well, considering that the “Unpopular” part of the group’s name in Japanese is himote, a term specifically used to describe someone, usually a man, who’s unpopular in the dating scene, few, if any, nights of the year are a time for dating for the organization’s members. Especially not Christmas Eve, though, because that’s when the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People holds their annual “Crush Christmas” protest. First held in 2007, this year’s protest took place in downtown Tokyo’s Shiuya neighborhood, as has become tradition.

After gathering in an empty lot, the group, with a police escort, marched through the streets of Shibuya, carrying their yellow “Crush Christmas” banner while chanting the slogan, along with the assertion that “Christmas datelessness is a form of diversity.” The march lasted some 30 minutes, with around 15 participants taking part.

“This year, we once again crushed Christmas,” declared the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People in an official tweet following the march. “We offer our thanks to those who took part, as well as those who were unable to attend but share our spirit.”

With the organization trumpeting its lonely, dateless status, it’s impossible to completely dismiss the likelihood that resentment towards the romantically successful is a contributing is a motivating factor for the protest. However, one of the marchers, a 37-year old Tokyoite, clarified that he wasn’t protesting happy couples per se. “I do not deny couples’ existence, and I am not opposed to romance. However, I take issue with Christmas being pushed as a time for couples to get all make out-y.”

As with the Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People’s other annual event, its Valentine’s Day protest, it’s debatable how much of the event is meant as serious opposition to Japanese dating norms, and how much is just a tongue-in-cheek excuse to have some subversive fun, especially since the image of Christmas as being for couples only has somewhat eroded in recent years. Sure, a nice Christmas date is still seen as a must for most Japanese people currently in a serious dating relationship, but that’s been the case for more than a generation. A lot of those early waves of teenage and twentysomething Christmas daters are now married with children and have transitioned to celebrating Christmas at home as a family, and Christmas parties with platonic friends aren’t unusual either.

And of course, the irony to organizing a regular event for lonely people is that the shared activity creates a social connection of its own. “I hadn’t ever made any fun memories spending Christmas with someone,” said a woman who was a first-time participant in this year’s Revolutionary Alliance of Unpopular People protest. “I didn’t know any of the other people in the march, but it felt good to raise our voices together,” further proving that even if you’re spending Christmas Eve without a date, you aren’t necessarily being forced to spend it alone.

Source: Sankei News via Livedoor News via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
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