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There's a belief that "Christmas cake" (presumably クリスマスケーキ) was used metaphorically about Japanese women over 25 - no-one wants Christmas cake after Christmas is over, and similarly men don't want to marry women over the age of 25. Sometimes it's qualified by saying that current generations don't use the phrase.

It's mentioned on the English language edition of Wikipedia, mostly citing non-Japanese people, but not the Japanese edition. Weblio doesn't mention in its example sentences or definitions of the phrase any cases of it being used metaphorically, and doing an image search doesn't bring up any non-literal cakes.

Was the phrase used metaphorically this way, and if so, do current generations understand, or still use, the phrase?

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    The problem is that the language in the homeland evolves slower the further you are from the native speakers. So the christmas cake "linguistic meme" of Japan's 30 years ago still lingers around here in the west. – Mindwin Aug 20 '15 at 15:58
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    That's a real 日本人の知らない日本語! – broccoli forest Aug 21 '15 at 5:10
  • もしかして、このジョーク(?)、海外では有名なんですか…w – naruto Aug 21 '15 at 7:31
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I barely remember hearing this metaphor many years ago, but I can safely say this metaphor is completely dead now.

According to this 発言小町 question, this metaphor used to be recognized all over Japan, around 30 years ago. Many people there say 懐かしいですね or 今じゃ考えられないですね :-)

11

I remember クリスマスケーキ was used that way decades ago.

The chart below is average age at first marriage in Japan. In 昭和55年 (1980), female's average age was 25.2. The metaphor probably worked around that time. But in 平成21年 (2009), it was 28.6. I don't think people in their 20s would understand the phrase.

enter image description here

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