New Year’s Day is an event held to welcome the coming of the new year and is a yearly tradition that is celebrated worldwide!
In this article, we would like to introduce to you how to spend New Year’s Day in the Japanese way!
The History of New Year’s Day
It is said that the New Year’s has already been celebrated ever since the Buddhism was introduced in the 6th century. In the olden days, New Year’s was an event held to worship the ancestors, similar to what we call Obon Festival (day of the death) in Japan today. At the time the Buddhism was introduced, the event was then held to pray or wish for an abundant harvest crop. And then, on the Edo Period, the New Year’s is celebrated similar to how we celebrate it today.
The Meaning of the New Year’s Decorations
- Kadomatsu (Pine Decoration) : A mark to welcome God. Because a pine tree does not wither for a whole year, it is said that the God takes shelter in the pine tree. Moreover, it is a symbol of life so it can also refer to as longevity and prosperity.
- Shimenawa (Straw Festoon ) : A barrier to prevent evil spirits from entering. It is also a symbol that God will arrive.
- Kagamimochi : God’s whereabouts. The name came from (A rice cake similar to the three sacred treasures mirror). The combination of mirror and rice represents good luck and it must be decorated in a high place inside the house.
- Hamaya : It has a role of an amulet or talisman. By sending away evil spirits, the desire for a healthy growth can be fulfilled.
- Kumade : It gathers good luck. It also increases money luck.
The Period of New Year’s Day
It is said that the New Year’s is celebrated from January 1st to January 31st and the decorations on the houses entrance is until January 15th in Kansai region and January 7th in Kanto region. It is also called as the Matsunouchi Period.
The Right Way to Write 年賀状 Nengajo (Greeting Card)
When writing a Nengajou, the writer must keep in mind not to write negative words because it brings bad luck. You should also write it in the right manner and must look up the rules to make sure you are writing it the correct way.
How the New Year’s is Celebrated Around The World
- America : They gather with family and friends and hold a home party.
- Australia : Australia is located at the southern hemisphere so it is summer during this time of year. Because of this, most families celebrate by having a barbeque in their backyards.
- Indonesia : They gather with their families and cousins and make sure to prepare themselves by keeping a clean hair and beard. They also have a culture of Otoshidama (giving money to children ) similar to Japan.
- China : They have grand celebrations. They fire firecrackers the moment the New Year arrives.
- Greece : They decorate their houses entrance with onion. The onion also has a symbol of life the same as the pine tree.
- Thailand : They splash water to each other to send away evil spirits.
- Spain : The moment the New Year arrives, they will eat 12 pieces of grapes.
- Philippines : It is said that circle shaped things are a symbol of good luck so they line up circle shaped fruits in their tables.