A Japanese New Year

As 2020 comes to a close — and it couldn’t come any sooner for many of us — we turn our focus on how to ring in the New Year with hopes of prosperity, good fortune and the best intentions. 

All around the world, there are many interesting and meaningful traditions: Spaniards eat twelve grapes, one grape for every toll of the clock at midnight to bring good luck for each month of the year; the Danes smash old dishes against the doors of their friends and families to ward off bad spirits; the Greek hang onions on their front doors as a symbol of rebirth; many cultures kiss at midnight to strengthen romance, and avoid superstitions of a loveless year ahead.

 In Japan, the traditions are numerous as New Year’s Day is the most important holiday of the year. New Years is rich in tradition as Japanese households and businesses prepare to bid farewell to the past year and start afresh. They work extremely hard to leave no stone unturned to complete any and all unfinished business in their personal and work lives to be able to start the new year with a clean slate.

 Here are some ways we celebrate in Japan: 

  •  Japanese households deep clean their homes from top to bottom, and companies clean their offices thoroughly on the days leading up to December 31st. I mean every nook and cranny, to start the new year fresh. Car owners wash their cars, every piece of laundry is washed, pets get bathed and so on...
  • The Japanese eat soba noodles on New Year’s Eve for the long, thin noodles symbolize a long and healthy life. We really like this tradition!
  • There is a Buddhist tradition of ringing the bell at the temple 108 times around midnight on New Year’s Eve to “throw away the old and bring in the new.” Why 108 times, you ask? In Buddhism, it is believed that human beings are plagued by 108 types of earthly desires. Each strike of the bell will remove one troubling desire from you. It’s really lovely to hear the sounds of these beautiful bells resounding in many Japanese neighborhoods.
  • On New Year’s Day, people don new clothes, new underwear, new socks to start the New Year with no stains of the past. They often visit a shrine with their families to ask the Gods for a fortunate year ahead.
  • Much like Christmas trees in western homes, the Japanese decorate their homes with bits of pine, bamboo and plum trees which symbolize longevity, prosperity and strength.
  • Japanese households prepare many New Year’s dishes on the days leading up to New Year’s Day, many of them symbolic to bring good luck. One example is New Year’s mochi (rice cakes).
  • It is also a time of giving as people express their well wishes by sending New Year’s postcard greetings that magically arrive on New Year’s Day and children are given New Year’s money in cute little envelopes.

But most importantly, how will you ring in the New Year?

In harmony and health,                          

Tae & Michele   

Happy Holidays!

Enjoy our "20% off everything" discount thru Dec. 21