JAPAN, A DIFFERENT NEW YEARS EVE
"Ōmisoka" is what they name the New Year’s Eve and it is traditional to eat toshikoshi-soba noodles, which length symbolizes the hope of a long life. It is also common to carry out a general cleaning which symbolizes spirituality known as “ōsōji”. Other of the well-known traditions is the preparation of the “amazake” which is prepared in shrines and temples. Pine or kadomatsu branches are used in the decoration of houses, and these refer to longevity.
On the 31st of December at midnight, buddhist temples begin ringing 108 bells “jyoya no Kane”. Each bell symbolizes each of the 108 earthly passions that must be overcome in order to reach enlightenment.
Once the new year has started, japaneses go to the temples to make the "hatsumōde", the first visit of the year, to make wishes for the coming year.
During the first days of the year, the most important temples are the Meji in Tokyo and the Fushimi Inari in Kyoto which are usually filled with tons of people.
The typical food of the new year is the “osechi ryouri”, a combination of various foods carefully placed in containers, specially designed for the occasion. You also eat “"ozōni", a soup of mochi and broth.
Another typical mea lis known as “kagami mochi”, which consists of two rice cakes placed one on top of the other with tangerine on the very top. This is also presented as an offering to the gods or Shinto kamis.
Japanes New Year customs are the farewell and welcoming celebrations of the year, which are called “bonenkai” and “shinnenkai” respectively.
The “bonenkai” characters mean to forget, year and reunion. It is considered the way to be able to leave behind the problems and worries of the year that is ending and a good time to save the debts, forget grudges and start again from scratch.
And you? Do you want to go bonekai?