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Maybe it shouldn't come as a surprise that, in a land where Cheap Trick still sell out stadiums and Anvil are considered cool, KFC is seen as the ultimate Christmas treat.

Apparently, when “Kentucky,” as it's known in Japan, was first launched there, it was slow to catch on, until some bright spark in marketing came up with the genius idea of linking it with Christmas. With his white beard and rotund features, Colonel Sanders does, after all, bear some resemblance to St Nick, in a slightly creepy way. To further drive home the seasonal connection, employees began wearing Santa outfits and the plastic statues of the Colonel–found outside every KFC location–were soon subject to the same makeover.

Nearly four decades on, KFC has become a Chrimbo smash. Lines form outside many branches on Christmas Eve (which is the big event, as Christmas Day itself isn't a holiday in this mostly non-Christian country). Some families book more than a month in advance to ensure they'll get to enjoy their special meal together there.

We're pretty sure the bucket's cachet doesn't hold strong in these parts, but you could always give it a try. For that special Christmas shindig you've been invited to, forget Dom Pérignon and simply pitch up with a bucket of fried chicken. Just tell the host it's “Big in Japan.”

And if they need proof, show 'em this YouTube clip. (There's more Christmas-related bonkersness on the KFC website.)