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Omisoka: Japanese New Year!

Dec 28, 2013

We’ve all heard of New Year’s Eve, but not everyone has heard of Omisoka, a similar holiday celebrated in Japan. Omisoka is a very important holiday for Japanese people, and is celebrated at the same time as New Year’s in North America. Find out more about Omisoka!

Japanese New Year

Just like New Year’s Eve, Omisoka is celebrated as the beginning of a new year with new possibilities, but their celebrations are a little different. Japanese New Year takes place on the last day of the year (December 31st). In preparation for a new year and a clean slate people purify their homes and remove last year’s clutter by cleaning from top to bottom. This is called “osoji”. They have a giant feast with friends and family with some traditional Japanese foods. Often people go out to celebrate or stay home and watch a nation-wide New Year’s talent competition until it’s time to count down to midnight. Omisoka isn’t just about having a party, it is also considered a spiritual event for many Japanese people, and at midnight they visit Shinto shrines. Temples ring a large cast iron bell at midnight to signify the 108 earthly wants that created human suffering.

OmisokaAt midnight the temple bell tolls to ring in the new year, but also for spiritual reasons
 

Traditions

  • People clean their houses and eat a large meal, and at 11 p.m. gather around to have one last meal of toshikoshi-soba (noodles). This is a tradition that comes from the belief that eating long noodles will give you a long life and help you cross from one year to the next!
  • Another reason much food is made on the last day of the year is that it is considered unlucky to cook in your kitchen for the first three days of the New Year, and most businesses are closed.
  • At midnight temples not only toll their bell to signify human desires that cause suffering, but they also hand out a traditional sweet drink called Amazake. The toll of the large bell is called joya-no-kane.
  • On December 31, Japan has a national broadcast called the Red vs. White Singing contest, where contestants compete against each other up until a half hour before midnight (a bit like a New Year’s American Idol).
Have Your Say

Do you celebrate Omisoka? How do you think it compares to New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comments section below!

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AlphaT
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"NovaHex" wrote:It's the equivalent of teaching the Bible in a public school. People have different opinions about it, and some don't want their kids to learn about it. There's a huge difference between understanding something, and forcing beliefs. In other words....  Separation of Church and Straight? :p
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NovaHex
NovaHex posted in Debating:
It's the equivalent of teaching the Bible in a public school. People have different opinions about it, and some don't want their kids to learn about it. There's a huge difference between understanding something, and forcing beliefs.
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Puppies077
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AlphaT
AlphaT posted in Debating:
"DisneyanimeLover" wrote: "AlphaT" wrote: "KingShawn13" wrote: "AlphaT" wrote: "frolickingwinsanity" wrote: LGBTQIA+ community is just as appropriate as everyone else. This angers me that they made such a big deal out of it. Like DisneyanimeLover said: "I think it's fine to talk about. It's a part of life, and people should be educated on it."  Sadly, we kids are often told we're not old enough or lack the experience to have opinions on such things. Should these things really be taught or talked about in sixth grade? "AlphaT" wrote: "frolickingwinsanity" wrote: LGBTQIA+ community is just as appropriate as everyone else. This angers me that they made such a big deal out of it. Like DisneyanimeLover said: "I think it's fine to talk about. It's a part of life, and people should be educated on it."  Sadly, we kids are often told we're not old enough or lack the experience to have opinions on such things. Should these things really be taught or talked about in sixth grade? Should the Holocaust? Should Slavery? Should the Civil Rights movement? Because each of those subjects are definitely more inappropriate than the LGBT and what they stand for and yet it continues to be taught by teachers and learned by children in grades as low as fourth grade. Compared to those events in history, the LGBT discussion seems more like The Cat In The Cat than an inappropriate topic. And besides if a student feels they are mature enough to want to boraden their perspective and thoughts then they should be allowed to do it and not be oppressed or told they're wrong because their views differ from the status quo. Should children really be taught sexuality outside of Specs Ed class? Be honest here, none of us would want our kids to go to school and be lectured on the LGBT.  Well, actually that's not entirely true. ^ It depends on the parents. If they are conservatives, then that'll be true. However, they're lots of liberals who wouldn't mind.  My school educates us on LGBTQ+ quite often, and the students don't mind. Most enjoy it. I've only heard one family complain, and they were conservative.  The teachers are people with political and social opinions as well, which makes it hard to teach fairly. What curriculum would there be?
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