Friday, January 1, 2010

A Japanese New Year


{kinga shinnen}
Or in English, "Happy New Year!"

We had heard that the Japanese really celebrate New Years, much more so than Christmas. So we were curious about all of the decorations and food so I did a google search and found quite a but of information. I have compiled some of the most interesting facts to share but if you want to learn more google "Japanese New Year"

In Japan, New Years (shogatsu or oshogatsu) is the most important holiday. Much like our Christmas or Thanksgiving day, they clean, decorate, fix a special meal, and give gifts of money to the children. The celebration lasts for several days and most businesses close from Jan. 1 - 3.
{entrances to buildings and homes are decorated with an ornament called Shimekezari which are made of twisted rope, bamboo, and other items to bring good luck}

Much like we send Christmas cards the Japanese send post cards called nengajo. These cards are often printed with the Chinese zodiac sign of the year. If they are sent by a specific date and marked "nengajo" then the post office will save them and deliver them on Jan. 1. However, if there is a death in the family during the year it is not customary to send post cards and a family member will send out a message requesting that friends and family do not send post cards out of respect for the deceased.
{2010 is the year of the Tiger}

{Shimekezari and the Tiger on the entrance of a business}

{Shimekezari on a Japanese home}

{kadomatsu is another traditional decoration for New Years. This is outside out building}

Our Japanese neighbors stopped by this afternoon to wish us a Happy New Year. They brought a traditional plate of Japanese food called osechi and a box of cookies.



Another tradition is to watch a popular TV show called Kohaku Uta Gassen where the red team and white team of popular music artist compete against each other.

They also make two mochi (rice cakes) with an orange (daidai, meaning "several generations") on top and call it kagami mochi. It is a very sticky and is the cause of several choking deaths each year, especially among the elderly. In the days after New Years the death toll is reported in the local papers.


Julie said...

How fun to celebrate New Years in a totally different culture :) Happy 2010 :)

Patty Patterson said...

That was very informative! I think we're going to celebrate by going to OKC and shopping. But, I did make cinnamon rolls for breakfast, though. Other than that our special meals come from Chili's. *lol*

Heather said...

Oh, how I miss Okinawa!!


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