Christmas in Japan has more in common with the commercial side of Christmas tradition than spiritual side, at least as it pertains to Western countries. Japanese Christmas traditions include a heavy emphasis on romance, an occasion to celebrate, and even eating fried chicken and Christmas cake. Idiosyncrasies aside, there is still no shortage of the Western influence of Christmas present in anime.
Tis better to give than receive:
‘Toradora!’ is primarily a romantic comedy anime. It should come as no surprise that the Japanese emphasis on romance during Christmas plays a large role in the three episodes that involve Christmas. To that end, the main characters, Ryuji Takasu and Taiga Aisaka commit themselves to a number of selfless acts in the name of Christmas.
Taiga reveals her belief that Christmas places special emphasis on looking after one another. Even though her remaining family has little to do with her, she still commits to sending gifts. Taiga also mentions giving out to charity in effort to look after those who need it.
Failing to get anywhere with his long time crush, Ryuji hopes to take advantage of an upcoming Christmas celebration to grow closer to Minori Kushieda. By the end of the three episode affair, both main characters start coming to the realization that their feelings for each other have moved beyond close friends and started down a romantic path. Not realizing the affection is mutual, Taiga and Ryuji try to give the other what they need most. Ryuji tries to fill the void family left on Christmas at the cost of opportunity with Minori. Having come to rely on Ryuji as a companion and caretaker, Taiga attempts to fix an opportunity for Minori and Ryuji to bond.
Naughty or nice:
Taiga is the quintessential tsundere character. As the series progresses she gradually opens up emotionally and tones down her violent tendencies. During the three Christmas episode stretch, Taiga resolves to be on her best behavior because Santa is watching. She believes that if she can be nice, good things will happen for her in turn.
Any child familiar with Christmas tradition knows that if they want Santa to fulfill their wish list, they need to be good. Even if the typical child wants an ipad and Tiaga wants family, the same general karmic principals apply.
Deck the halls:
The ‘Toradora!’ rendition of Christmas has all the decorative makings of Christmas. A large school effort is dedicated to preparing for the Christmas party. All the familiar sites are present. Bells are strung up, a Christmas tree full of lights is set up, and even Santa garb appears. Scenes outside the school even showcase decorations that could be seen in any downtown.