Handmade Japanese New Year Traditions

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What Japanese people do during the new year holidays, check it out!
First of all...
Happy New Year everyone. Best wishes to you and your loved ones. We hope this year will be another great year all of you.

In my country, we celebrate the new year with a countdown party and fireworks. Family and relatives who live far away will return home. Its very much like Christmas which we spend quality time with family.

(In case you are curious, I'm from Philippines.)

From what i learned here in Japan, the way Japanese people celebrate the new year is very different. I have never been to any countdown parties nor have other people I know. So what do people do on new year's eve? I searched around and summed up the following:

Happy Reading!

*House decorations

It is the Japanese Traditional New year decoration or the Japanese called "shimenawa" It is usually used at Shinto shrines to mark sacred spaces and to chase away the evil spirits. It is a Japanese New year custom to display on the house entry door or on the porch.
Shimenawa are lengths of laid rice straw or hemp rope used for ritual purification in the Shinto religion. They can vary in diameter from a few centimeters to several meters, and are often seen festooned.
Shimenawa cab be also found at shrines, house altars and other sacred sites. They also found on a sumo Grand Champion(yokozuna), who wears one during the ceremonial ring-entrance ceremony.

One of the most striking symbols of Shinto is the rice rope used to denote sacred space.

Japanese people decorate their houses with Kagamimochi.
Mochi is rice cake made of sticky rice or rice powder. This Kagamimochi consists of two round mochi, one big, one small, positioned like a snowman with a bitter orange on top.
The mochi symbolizes the going and coming year. Orange, "daidai" in Japanese, represents generation. Japanese people also eat mochi on the new year.

*Special new year Food

This tradition began in the Heian period. Seems like its the most important meal of the year for Japanese people.
Osechi are always packed in special lacquer boxes called "jubako".

Here are some guidelines:

Its bad luck to put up your decorations up on December 31st, as this is considered last-minute (ichiiya-kazari) and will bring bad luck.

December 29th is apparently also not a good day to put up decorations because the number nine has the same sound as "suffer" (ku) in Japanese, so it is also considered to be bad luck.

This means its best to decorate on the 28th of December.

Don't hesitate to leave a comment if you have other questions.

Thank you and Happy New Year!

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