Sincerely, I thought that by this time I would be in another country but this year was the third year to celebrate Christmas and New Year in Japan. And I could not be more grateful to life for this great opportunity because I love Japan! The two previous years, I celebrated differently during this season and if you want to know how it was, check the following links: Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Japan 2016-2017 and Christmas and New Year in Japan 2017-2018.
Each year I include different things that the Japanese do and my family’s customs so this year would not be the exception. For Christmas, we gathered several Spanish speakers in a house and played dice with gifts. And, a week before, I started a ‘Secret Santa’ style game with my partner and we exchanged the main gift at Christmas, which he surprised me a lot and I just love what he gave me too much because he knows me very well.
In Japan, Christmas is not celebrated so much and if there is some kind of celebration it is being with the boyfriend or girlfriend. The truth is that there is not so much decoration on the streets, only in the larger or more famous areas such as Shinjuku, Shibuya or Ginza.
On the other hand, in New Year, I celebrated in a very calm way and in my own home. It was the typical mexican way of the 12 grapes and a bit of tequila as well as the song “I do not forget the old year, because it has left me with very good things …”. But before that, I bought a ‘kagami mochi’, which is a rice cake mirror style.
Some instructions of the Kagami Mochi
Traditional food called Osechi
The ‘kagami mochi’ is very common, most Japanese households will have one because of the meaning it entails, especially that of having good fortune for the following years. You have to prepare it until the second weekend of January, you can fry it or include it in a soup called ‘ozoni’ but never cut it with a knife because it means bad luck.
Another tradition is the ‘osechi’, typical food that should be eaten the first days of the New Year. One of the things it should consist of is half-raw dishes, covered with sugar or vinegar so that they do not spoil overnight. By having this prepared, one would avoid preparing the dishes in the first days of the New Year and thus, the deities would not be disturbed.
It is also customary to eat soba during New Year’s Eve, this is a popular belief because they symbolize strength, to have a long life and/or to let go of the difficulties of the former year, because of the soba being easy to cut.
It was very interesting to know a little more about Japan and it makes me very happy to continue discovering new things. I would like to know more traditions and not only from here but from all over the world or even in your own family, because each and every family is a world.
I really hope that you can fulfill all of your New Year’s resolutions, which in my opinion, one should not be thinking about it only during New Year’s but one should think or reflect on this every time, there’s a need to make a positive change.
Questions: How did you celebrate Christmas and/or New Year? What did you do? What do you like the most about this time of year? What are your resolutions for this New Year? Is there any custom or tradition that you do and like to do (eg, going out of the house with luggage to travel a lot)?
Who has a New Year’s resolution to come to Japan? Above, there are very good promotions and discounts that can be used to plan ahead to visit Japan, I really recommend coming during the time of cherry blossoms.