Photo: すしぱく on Pakutaso

New Year's Celebration Checklist

The New Year's events are one of the most awaited events in the country. Many people will celebrate it happily with joyous festivities and precious time with family. The meaning of New Year’s Eve is that we shut all the things that we have passed on this year and prepare to face the new things in the coming year.

Each country has its own ways to celebrate and welcome the new year, but Japan's is quite cultural and entertaining. Unlike Christmas in the West, Shogatsu (New Years in Japanese) is very important in Japan and they have celebrated it since ancient times. Here, everyone celebrates New Year’s events with various activities. Some include cleaning the entire house, decorating, bathing a pet, and preparing O-sechi dishes and also stepping outside watching the first sunrise of the year.

Cleaning the House

Photo by すしぱく on Pakutaso.

Activities of the new year's eve usually begin with o-souji (cleaning activities). These involve almost all of the family members going hand-in-hand to clean the house, so that it can be completely spotless. They clean all spots of their house from the biggest to the smallest. They believe that leaving dust or dirt will bring bad influence on themselves or family in the next year. Not only at households, temples also take this seriously, so this active cleaning is considered part of a ceremony or ritual in Japan.

Decorating the House

Photo by Bigben1979 on Wikimedia Commons.

After cleaning activities, they will proceed to decorate their houses with a Shimenawa ornament. This ornament is straw ornament formed ringed with evergreen leaves. Ususally this ornament hung in front of their house. Beside Shimenawa, there is also kagami mochi. This is a pile of mochi cake, orange and kadomatsu that u can meet in the shopping center

Bonenkai

Bonenkai
Photo by bm.iphone on Flickr.

Bonenkai is a common tradition in which companies or organizations in Japan hold drinking parties to commemorate one year of hard working. This party has meaning “a party to forget the past”. Usually to succeed this event, they choose one member in their office as a coordinator. This coordinator will start reserving the place, contact the colleagues who will participate. Content of this event will usually be preceded by kanpai and drinking together, eating, karaoke and the last is drinking until late night with intention to forget unpleasant things of the year.

Oomisoka

Photo by すしぱく on Pakutaso.

Oomisoka is a tradition of eating soba. Soba is like a buckwheat noodle of Japan that can be called toshikosi soba (buckwheat passing year). 

Joya no Kane

Photo by STA3816 on Wikimedia Commons.

Towards 12 am, bells found in Buddhist temples in Japan will be rung 108 times. This means that 108 kinds of evil desires of man should be driven away. 

Greeting Cards (Nengajou)

Nengajo
Photo by Japan Post on Wikimedia Commons.

Like Christmas cards in the West, Japan has a tradition of sending New Years cards. These greeting cards, usually send by post card size are called nengajou. All of that greeting card should come on time to the recipient. It should not be too early or late. In this tradition, we can see how well the postal service of Japan is. All of the postmen will be very busy at this time.

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