Japanese New Year and its traditions

japanese new year it is not exactly a commemorative date, but a period of festivities and traditions completely different from the western world.

Sometimes I wish that in Brazil things were like in Japan.

Three to seven days of holiday would be good enough. Do not you think?

The fact is that all these traditions and rituals performed in the vicinity of the Japanese New Year are events with the aim of improving relationships with other people, attracting health and prosperity in the coming year.

It would not be possible to write a single article about all the traditions and rituals of the Japanese New Year.

So, I decided to write two articles talking about a lot of what happens before, during and after the Japanese New Year.

If during the traditional japanese christmas there weren't many festivities, in the Japanese New Year they are very numerous.

Cleanse your life before the new year

oosouji the big cleaning

Although many Japanese families start these preparations even before the last month of the year, many wait for the beginning of December to do a big cleaning in their homes and in their lives.

This event is known as 大掃除, great cleaning.

As cleaning means spiritual purification, cleaning is not limited to the rooms in the house.

People try to get rid of everything negative in their lives.

Company employees help clean up organizations, people pay debts, fulfill their outstanding obligations and promises.

In addition, the Japanese have a very similar behavior in affective relationships.

Another interesting meaning of this ritual is to remove everything that can prevent your happiness in the coming year and keep bad luck far from your life.

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Purity and strength in a cookie

japanese rice dumpling mochi

Around three days before the Japanese New Year, our oriental friends start preparing a special rice dumpling known as  or 餅つき.

As the preparation of this dumpling is handmade, many families and communities gather to prepare the dumpling together.

The preparation of mochi already gives a hint of its meaning, since the rice is cooked, beaten and then rice balls are created with the hands.

Orientals believe that the  symbolize strength and purity.

How about a Japanese New Year tree?

kagamochi japanese new year decoration

With the arrival of the new year, the Japanese create the 鏡餅, a kind of Christmas (or New Year's) tree based on cakes and orange.

It has a larger rice cake that serves as a base, a smaller one on top of the base, and an orange on top.

In addition, the Japanese put many other decorations on the 鏡餅.

Then, on the second Sunday of the new year, they rip up our unusual New Year's tree.

The Japanese say that this “tree” is offered to Buddha and has the meaning of expressing the wish for happiness and prosperity in the coming year.

Japanese New Year's card

japanese new year card

Unlike our exchange of cards, which takes place at Christmas, the Japanese exchange greeting cards at the turn of the year.

It is customary to send cards to friends and relatives, thanking them for their attention and all they have done in the past year.

In addition, Japanese people also express their wish for happiness and prosperity to other people.

The rules of Japanese New Year cards

As everything in Japan has rules and rituals, not even New Year's cards have escaped them. If you want to give someone a card (there's still time), pay attention to these tips.

  1. The card must be delivered by January 1st.
  2. Cards usually have illustrations that represent good luck, such as the seven gods of luck or Japanese zodiac symbols, especially the symbol that represents the coming year.
  3. If you intend to give a card to someone whose family has suffered the death of a relative, then do not send it. For him, just send a card with a message of solidarity.
  4. Give importance to packaging. The Japanese place a high value on gift packaging. So do as they do and make time for this part of the present as well.

The Japanese New Year and three days of warm weather…

Osechi Ryouri Japanese New Year's Warm - 御節料理 and 重箱

For the Japanese, the last day of the year is considered a day of rest.

So it's natural to take the last day of December and the first three days of the Japanese New Year to rest, relax without worrying about anything else.

With a little advance notice, the women prepare the meals, known as 御節料理, which will be consumed on rest days.

These meals are made up of several different dishes, which are stored in “boxes” called 重箱.

Those who prefer more practicality often compare ready-made meals in stores.

The 108 chimes before the Japanese New Year

joya no kane 108 chimes - 除夜の鐘

On the night of December 31, many Japanese gather in Buddhist temples to hear the 108 chimes of chinos.

According to Buddhism, this ritual serves to remind people of the 108 sins that exist in man.

She is known as 除夜の鐘 and it also serves as a greeting for the Japanese New Year that is getting closer and closer.

As far as I could tell, these are just the main facts and rituals that take place before the Japanese New Year.

Did you think there are too many? Well, there's more to come in the next article. about the new year Japanese.