How Japanese Spend New Years (Part 2)

Happy New Year everyone! We’ve officially entered 2020, a new decade, and it’s already exciting, at least for me. My family has had countless new things happening already: a new computer arriving, my first opportunity to hold a copy of my own novel in my hands, a beginning of a new book…

But with all this bustle of PREPARING for the new year, I realized I forgot to write about a lot more things about how Japanese spend the New Year. So this post is a continuation of the last post.

So, these are the things I forgot…

Otoshidama (Money giving)

In the last post, I explained that the first day of the New Year is a time when the family gets together to celebrate. Well, during this time the adults give some money gifts to the kids. It’s kind of like “the money to use for the next year”. Kids are anxious for that time, to see if they can get a lot of money this year or not.

Because my parents don’t give me money for doing chores, or some money for the month and such, this is about the only time of the year I get money. So I always have to remember to use my money VERY wisely.

Joya-no-Kane (Bell Ringing)

Though I have no personal experience of this, the second it becomes the new year, Buddhist priests supposedly slam a long log against a large bell near in the temple many times. They believe this will wipe away all wrong thoughts and hearts from the people of Japan.

Several priests hold strands coming from the thick, hard rope connected to the log. The priests first pull the strands, and push them forward. Next, the priest holding the thick rope does a sort of a back jump, ramming the log into the bell, causing a loud gong. The sound echoes into the streets, but denying their hopes — the sound is really just a loud sound to most!

Eto (The Zodiac Cycle)

This doesn’t have to do specifically about New Years and New Year’s Eve, but many of the things during the new year season are decorated based on this cycle of years called, “Eto.” This tradition comes from China.

Each year of the twelve-year cycle is represented by an animal. After twelve years, the cycle repeats. The names of the years go in this order: rat, cow, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, bird, dog, boar.

This year was the “rat year”. It might be interesting to know what animal represents your birth year!

Well, that’s it for this week! I am very sorry for not posting in a while; the first several days of the New Year was a little busy for the whole family.

So…. for a little fun event, why don’t you try to find out what animal in the Eto represents your birth year? You have two ways of finding out: the first way is to type in your birth year in the comments, and I will tell you the animal! The other way is to calculate using the list I wrote and the fact that this year is the “rat year”.

Hope to hear from you soon! God bless!

14 thoughts on “How Japanese Spend New Years (Part 2)

  1. This was such an awesome post, Noah! So many interesting traditions that Americans would consider quite different from our New Years celebrations

    In addition, I’m the year of the dog. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I wish I had one! 🙂 Cool! So you guys are twelve years apart?? Or were you guys born in the same year? Also, do you mean cow, not ox? Unless we’re talking about a different Zodiac cycle…


      2. Hmm, it would not let me comment this below your other comment. :/

        Anyway, my sister and I were born in the same year, just a few months apart. 😉 Oh, yeah, I mean cow. From other places I have been or from books I read, people have always told me that it is an ox.

        Liked by 1 person

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