How Do You Celebrate a Japanese New Year?


Quick Answer

You can celebrate a Japanese New Year by feasting on traditional dishes, giving gifts of money to children and visiting a Japanese shrine or temple. One popular part of the Japanese New Year is otoshidama, which is the custom of gifting children money in decorative envelopes.

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Full Answer

Celebrate the Japanese New Year by serving traditional dishes such as osechi-ryōri. Osechi-ryōri is actually several types of food, each of which has a particular meaning in Japanese society. Herring roe symbolizes fertility, and prawns symbolize long life. Other foods of the osechi-ryōri include boiled seaweed, sweet potatoes, fish cakes, soybeans and burdock root. Rice is also an important dish during this holiday and is served either as mochi, which is a rice cake, or zouni, which is a rice cake soup.

On the eve of the New Year celebration, listen for the bell ringing that takes place throughout all the Buddhist temples. These bells are struck 108 times; the act symbolizes the number of human sins. Striking the bells takes away the sins and cleanses the person for the new year.

Once the new year rolls around, visit shrines and temples. It is here that people pray for prosperity, good fortune, health and safety for the new year.

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