Wednesday, January 6, 2016

New Year's Day in Japan.

Happy 2016!  I wish you all the very best this year, a year full of joy and happiness.

In Japan, Jan 1 is the day in a year when people have the biggest celebration.  People decorate the front of a house with the special kind of wreath which is often made of straws of rice or hemp with a pine leaves and a kind of fruit.   By placing it on the front door, it is said to protect the house from evil.

People prepare special meals called 'Osechi' (御節) meal for the big day spending the last few days towards the end of the year.  It has many small dishes and each one has a special meaning, such as the prosperity of the family, becoming a dedicated person etc.

These foods are preserved for a few days, and the original idea was to give holidays to the house wives during 'Oshogatsu' (お正月) season.  It is also the time we eat 'Mochi' (餅), sticky pounded rice in a savory soup.

Families get together to have the Osechi feast.  Also, a lot people visit shrines on the New Year's Eve or the first days of the New Year to purify the mind facing to the higher existence and pray for the good year.  This season is called 'Oshogatsu' and most people have holidays for about a week before/after the day.  In the old times, January was called 'Mutsuki' (睦月) in Japanese.  'Mu' means intimate and 'tsuki' means month.  This month is supposed to be the time when people spend good time with all the family and deepen their relationship.

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