Charles Dickens wrote, "I have always thought of Christmas time, as ... the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys."
It's for the community. People dress up, bring their kids (to see Santa and get presents), and enjoy the food and music. A great party, and open to all, although it's usually the less privileged who attend. Daido Roshi, the abbot, remarked that people seemed impressed by the surroundings. That's no surprise. The dining hall is like a medieval banquet hall, with huge timbers and iron chandeliers hung with Christmas balls. The monastery is a landmark site, and has a lot of one of a kind ironwork done by hand. Not many of us ordinarily have dinner in a setting like that.