Japanese New Year traditions

This article was written over a year ago.

Hi, guys!
I will introduce “lately” Japanese New Year traditions today!

How to spend New Year’s Eve

1. Eat “toshikoshi soba(年越しそば)”

Our traditional dinner of new year’s eve is soba.
Do you know soba? Soba is a noodles which is made from buckwheat flour.
The soba is same as usual, but we call it “toshikoshi soba(年越しそば)” if you eat it at the new year’s eve.
“Toshi(年)” means year. “Koshi(越し)” means over.

Why we eat soba at the new year’s eve?
Soba is long, so we hope having a long life like soba.
Soba is also easy to cut, so we hope to cut out an evil fate or relationship before the new year.
However, honestly speaking, we just eat soba with alcohol in kotatsu! We don’t  think “why soba?”. We just eat because it is tradition.

2. Watch TV with family

New year event is for family in Japan, not for friends or lovers.
We eat and drink with family, and watch TV.
Some people watch “kohaku utagassen(紅白歌合戦)” which is a traditional music TV program.
Others watch a comedy show.
Most popular comedy show on new year’s eve is “warattehaikenai(笑ってはいけない)” . I always watch it, and I love it! However, unfortunately, in 2021, there was no “warattehaikenai(笑ってはいけない)” ! Many people were disappointed. I miss it!!

3. Count down

In Japan, we greet the new year quietly.
108 bell rings to welcome the new year at shrines.
*We call it “joya no kane(除夜の鐘)”.

(Honestly speaking, at the time, I always have a drinking spree..)

After the day changed

After the day changed, everyone start to bow and say “akemashite omedetou gozaimasu(あけましておめでとうございます)” which means “A happy new year” and  “kotoshi mo yoroshiku onegaishimasu(今年もよろしくお願いします)” which means “best wishes” or something.
(Just between you and me, it’s funny for me to see people suddenly change be polite and bow.)
At the same time, on the internet, many people say “akeome kotoyoro(あけおめ、ことよろ)”.

Additionally, people go to a shrine and pray.
*We call this “hatsumoude(初詣)”.
After we pray, we buy “omikuji(おみくじ)” which is a fortune-telling slip.

New year’s morning

We say “akemashite omedetou gozaimasu(あけましておめでとうございます) “ again on the morning.
If there are children, adults have to give children money as a “otoshidana(お年玉)”. This is a big event for children. For adults, it might be a bad event because they lose money.
( I always want to hide from my nephews. I don’t wanna lose my money! )

Our traditional breakfast on new year’s morning is ozouni(お雑煮) and osechi(お節).
When I was child I didn’t like osechi(お節), but now, I like it! It’s a good nibbles!

Some people may talk about “hatsuyume(初夢)” which means a dream we had on new year’s day.
If you saw “mt. Fuji” or “a hawk” or “a eggplant” on your dream, this year is lucky for you!!

How to spend new year’s holiday after new year

Some people enjoy drinking and watching TV.
Some people enjoy shopping and buy “fukubukuro(福袋)” which is lucky bag.

The end of the holiday, we get fat and go back work with a brain which is still on vacation.

That’s all!!
This is a traditional new year in Japan!
Anyway, guys! Have a great new year!!
Akeome, kotoyoro!!

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