Embassy of Japan in Russia


New Year — a holiday that brings joy to any home in any CT the wound of the world. In calendar rituals of the Japanese, like all peoples of East Asia, this festival belonged and belongs first place. It is not only important from the winter holidays, but the most important feast in General, more relevant to people’s lives than perhaps all the other holidays combined. No accident in modern Japan for the period of new year holidays, which is called o-segatsu (first month of the year), accounts for the largest part of the holidays. Generally New year is celebrated from December 29 to January 3 and almost all state and commercial institutions are closed.

New Year — a holiday special. Holiday, when you remember all the good and try to forget all the bad things left from the past year. In late December, the Japanese are preparing for the New year: restoring order in their homes, buy presents for friends and family, sign greeting cards (nengajo), cook timed to the holiday Christmas dishes put in front of the gate or at the entrance of the house decorations from pine kadomatsu, which symbolically guard the house from all harm. Many Japanese in the Christmas holidays going to their homes, visit local temples to pray and ask yourself and your family prosperity in the coming year (Azumaya). Women and girls for such a rare event wearing a colorful kimono. Outside the Japanese greet each other with the words “Akemashite of omedeto gozaimasu” meaning “happy new year”.

One of the most exciting parts of Japanese home decor for the New year is kadomatsu (“pine at the entrance”). Kadomatsu — new year’s greeting to the deity of the holiday — usually made from pine, bamboo, woven rice straw rope (shimenawa), decorated with ferns, the tangerine, and also sometimes a bunch of seaweed and dried shrimp. Every decoration detail has its own symbolism. The evergreen pine has long been considered a symbol of longevity, immortality, a symbol of wishes of health, joy, happiness. Bamboo is revered for its durability: flexible and slender green trunks of bamboo trees bend under the strong winds, but no hurricane is not able to break them. So the bamboo is good wishes to the durability, ability to withstand adversity. Straw rope or harness in mythological and folk traditions — talisman protecting against evil spirits, misfortunes, diseases. Tangerines — a symbol of longevity for the family as a whole; branches of fern — purity and fertility; seaweed — a symbol of happiness; shrimp — longevity for representatives of the current generation.

On the first day of the New year — ganjitsu — all members of a Japanese family, observing traditions, sit at the table to enjoy a specially prepared new year’s dishes, and congratulate each other, raising a Cup of sake . Japanese New year cannot be imagined without mochi – round loaves-bread (sometimes cakes) of different sizes, made from glutinous rice. Loaves for New year — is primarily the desire of wealth, prosperity, a good harvest in the coming year. This greeting to a deity of the New year, from the favor which depend the happiness and luck in the future. Since ancient times round loaves mochi was associated with round mirror — attributes of the goddess Amaterasu.

From ancient times it was customary to decorate the house with bouquets of willow or bamboo branches suspended from the mochi in the shape of flowers, fish, fruits, etc. These ornaments, called motibana are colored in yellow, green or pink in color and are installed in a conspicuous place or hang from the ceiling at the entrance to the New year deity — toshigami, “entering the house”, he immediately thought about his “responsibilities” to take care of a hospitable host in the coming year. According to legend, at the end of the festivities each member of the family had to eat so many smilies motibana how old was he in this year, as it gives a special strength.

With the Christmas holidays is associated with a wide variety of rituals, games and ceremonies. Traditional entertainment on new year’s day — the game of shuttlecock hanetsuki, zapuskaniem tops and kites, playing cards with Christmas poems hyakunin isshu, sugoroku is a game resembling backgammon. In programowych shops you can buy different Christmas gifts and talismans: hamaki — blunt arrows with white feathers that protect the house from misfortune and evil forces; Canada — similar to bear claws rake made of bamboo, which is very convenient “rake” happiness; takarabune — ships with rice and other treasures, on which are seated seven gods of fortune. It is believed that if you put this ship under your pillow on new year’s eve, it will dream prophetic dream.

For more than a thousand years the New year usher in the 108 strikes of the bells ringing at midnight from all the churches. According to Buddhist beliefs, a man burdened with the cares of 108, and it is believed that with the last stroke of the bell all the troubles disappear, and in the new year all waiting for a new, happy life. Perhaps this is a feeling of happiness, the sense of cheerful atmosphere and are a major reason for such high popularity of this festival among the Japanese.

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