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Japanese New Year's History, Traditions and Celebrations

Japanese New Year's History, Traditions and Celebrations

New Year's Day means the first day of the year.

It is common in any calendar.

And it also means the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year.

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Happy New Year!

This is an event to celebrate.

It is a grand celebration of the New Year, with New Year's decorations and Osechi dishes (New Year's dishes) eaten by everyone.

Osechi dishes (New Year's dishes)

Recently, more and more people are buying Osechi dishes at stores or for home delivery instead of making them by hand.

January 1 is a national holiday.

In addition to New Year's Day, the first three days of the New Year (New Year's Day through January 3) are also a vacation for many Japanese.

When did such a New Year's holiday begin and take root?

If you want to check the contents of this article on YouTube,

please watch this video.

When did the Japanese New Year originate?

Unfortunately, it is not well known when the Japanese New Year began.

It is certain that it was before the Edo period.

It is said that the Japanese New Year is similar to the ancient Jewish festival of Passover.

Passover is one of the three most important festivals for Jews.

To learn more about these three major Jewish festivals,

Please read this article.

The similarity between the Japanese New Year and the Jewish Passover is also one of the grounds for the theory that the ancestors of the Japanese people were Jews.

If this theory is true, the origin of the Japanese New Year could be before the Heian period (794-1185).

In addition to New Year's, there are many similarities between ancient Judaism and Japanese Shintoism, and the Imperial Family.

If you would like to know more about this,

Japanese-Jewish common ancestry theory

Please see this article.

Origin of Japanese New Year

In the past, ancestors were worshipped every six months, like the Obon festival in the summer.

However, this changed as Buddhist influence became stronger.

Obon has become an ancestor memorial service as before.

On the other hand, New Year's Day became a "kami-matsuri" festival to welcome the Toshigami god and pray for a good harvest in the coming year.

Before World War II, Japan used the East Asian age reckoning.

Therefore, New Year's Day was, in a sense, everyone's birthday.

Nowadays, each birthday is celebrated on a monthly basis.

Since the modern way of celebration, New Year's Day has become an event to simply celebrate the new year.

How long does New Year's last?

The period during which New Year's decorations using pine and bamboo originally lasted until January 15, but some regions have now shortened it to January 7.

The reason for this change was during the Edo period.

By the Edo Shogunate,

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Start cleaning up for the New Year on January 7th.

This is how the government ordered it.

In some regions, New Year's Day ends on January 20th.

However, in general, the dates are fixed.

  • Large New Year's Day: From New Year's Day to 7th
  • Small New Year's Day: From New Year's Day to 15th

The reality of New Year holidays in Japan

By law, government agencies and banks are closed from December 29 to January 3.

Many general companies also do so.

Transportation systems operate on holiday schedules during this period.

Retailers and large stores such as department stores and supermarkets were properly closed on New Year's Day until the 1980s.

However, it was the 24-hour convenience stores that revolutionized this New Year's holiday.

With the advent of these convenience stores, they were closed only on New Year's Day from the 1990s onward.

This may be the reason why some stores have short hours from January 2, and an increasing number of large stores have short hours on New Year's Day as well.

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Japanese work too hard!

It is one of the reasons why people say so.

It was such a way of working, but it would be reviewed after 2017.

Against the backdrop of the government's "reform of work styles" and labor shortages, some stores have begun to review their New Year's Day business hours.

Japanese New Year's greeting cards

Many people still send New Year's greeting cards on New Year's Day.

Originally, people did not greet each other with New Year's cards but actually met in person at the beginning of the year.

That greeting became a simple New Year's greeting card.

Today, however, it has become even simpler.

Since the end of the 1990s, cell phones have become widespread, and people often celebrate the New Year online instead of on paper.

Incidentally, it is important to note that New Year's customs should be observed when people are in mourning, such as the bereaved family members who have lost a relative.

Generally, New Year's Day is not celebrated at this time, and postcards of mourning should be sent in advance so that New Year's cards are not received.

When you look at the history and customs of New Year's in this way, you can see that religion and the calendar have a considerable influence.

Just knowing a little bit about the history of New Year's Day can give a profound meaning to the New Year that we welcome every year, don't you think?

Furthermore, if you would like to know more about the history and origin of "Kagamimochi" related to New Year's,

What is Kagamimochi?

Please also read this article.


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